The fourth points race of Zwift Racing League Season 3 happens Tuesday, May 11th. After last week’s punishing Cobbled Climbs effort this week’s route may seem like a vacation. And perhaps it is – after all, we’re riding in Paris on what may be the most recognizable road in the world: the Avenue des Champs-Élysées!
A/B racers will be riding 6 laps, while C/D will be riding 4. Let’s dig into the course, including some tips for bike choice and strategic options.
Looking at the Route: Champs-Élysées
Watching the Tour de France pros race on these roads for stage 21 may have given you the mistaken impression that it’s a flat route. But it really isn’t!
As you can see from the Veloviewer profile above (and the ZwiftHub profile below), the road climbs up to the Arc de Triomphe. This little climb even has a name – the 1.3km Montée des Champs Élysées!
It’s not a steep climb, averaging just 2.1%. But this is where the big efforts happen on every lap, especially when you’ve got an intermediate sprint near the top of the climb as we do this week.
The only other bump worth mentioning is the dip down then back up as you round the back of Jardin des Tuileries, with the Louvre on your right. In this direction, though, the rise is much less noticeable than when you’re going the other way – so just mind your pack position, and possibly use it to launch a final long attack with 1.3km to the finish line on your last lap!
Each lap is 6.6km, and you’ve got a 3.2km lead-in from the start pens.
About the Lutece Sprint
The sprint segment here will be the most animated section of the race (apart from the finish) since it’s on an incline and riders can earn intermediate sprint points. A few key bits of info on the Lutece sprint:
- It’s short – only ~150 meters long. Expect times in the 10-15s range. Time your powerups appropriately.
- It’s long: expect the hard effort to begin well before the sprint start line, since you’ll be on an incline for approximately 1 kilometer before the sprint starts.
- The start line is nearly impossible to see. If you’re chasing fastest-through-segment points, we recommend pre-riding the route so you know where the sprint begins, because in a large peloton it’s hard to spot.
- The hill continues after the sprint. Don’t just sit up after the sprint banner! Expect attacking riders to keep the power on through the banner until the road levels out, as this is the most logical place to attack and force a selection on this route.
Riders will be awarded powerups through the start/finish banner as well as the sprint banner, meaning we’ll get 2 powerup chances per lap. Three powerups will be given out at each banner:
Aero Boost (helmet): makes you more aerodynamic (reduces your CdA by 25%) for 15 seconds. Use this if you’re contesting the sprint intermediate, attempting an attack at high speed, or just trying to catch a breather in the peloton on flat or descending road.
Steamroller: reduces Crr for 30 seconds so you roll as fast as a road tire on pavement regardless of wheels or road surface. If you’re on a road bike, use this when you hit a dirt patch. (It also provides an advantage on cobbles, bricks, wood, etc.)
Draft Boost (van): increases the draft effect you are experiencing by 50% for 30 seconds. Use at higher speeds (flats and descents) when you are already drafting off another rider (since this powerup only helps when you are drafting.)
After week 2’s steamroller craziness on the Dirty Sorpresa, some Zwifters are wondering just what sort of effect the steamroller will have in this week’s race on the cobbles. To understand this, you might first want to check out our post all about Zwift Crr.
Using some basic physics calculations, we can figure out what sort of wattage savings the steamroller delivers at a given speed for a particular weight rider. Here are some “race pace” numbers you may find interesting:
- At 50kph, a 75kg rider saves 25W using the steamroller on cobbles
- At 50kph, a 75kg rider saves 214W using the steamroller on dirt
- At 40kph, an 85kg rider saves 23W using the steamroller on cobbles
- At 40kph, an 85kg rider saves 195W using the steamroller on dirt
So you can see the steamroller’s effect on cobbles is much smaller than on dirt. But it’s still there, and it lasts for 30 seconds.
Bike Frame + Wheel Choice
While this route has a bit of an incline each lap, it’s very draftable. Aero wins the day, hands down.
So use a fast frame and disc wheelset if you’ve got it. If not that, then the Tron bike. And if you don’t have either of those, get the fastest frame+wheel setup you can grab at your level.
Dave’s Route Notes
Editor’s note: Sherpa Dave has put together a race recon video and some helpful notes.
Every year the Tour ends in Paris… and it’s a day for the sprinters. The Zwift version of Paris mirrors laps around the Champs-Elysees, looping the Arche-Du-Triomphe at the top and the Jardins des Tuileries at the bottom. (Funny story: on the video I don’t mention the Jardins because I had no confidence of how to pronounce Tuileries. And did Paris-based CICC help me out? No they did not!)
Last week was for the puncheurs, this week is for the sprinters with a fast 6.5km per lap, and one short uphill sprint each lap as the intermediate. I don’t think there is a lot in the way of strategy for this race: go hard, go fast, and don’t slow down! Even the powerups are pretty straightforward and each of them (aero, truck, steamroller) have pretty much equal benefit on the sprint!
Interesting but largely irrelevant observation: clearly nobody at Zwift has taken a sailboat up the Seine to Paris like I have. All the sailboats in the river have their masts up! How do they get under the bridges?
Key things to look out for:
If all you want are the facts, here is the one-page print-off sheet with the key distances:
This one will be fast and furious! I love Paris, and the way Zwift rendered the scenery is wonderful, whether you’re using the drone to see the Jardins, or catching glimpses of the Eiffel Tower in the distance. Of course, you won’t be seeing any of that through the sweat dripping into your eyes!
No Breakaways Course Preview
Here’s the course preview from Rick at No Breakaways:
This is a points race, so everything comes down to the sprint efforts and the finish. All the miles in between are just the setup.
Here are a few predictions about what we’ll see in this race:
- The peloton will string out through the sprint banner each lap, but reform on the descent and flat that follows.
- Fastest Through Segment top 10 times could be set on any lap, because the peloton will stay sizeable and the sprint is both short and draftable.
- Speaking of sprint segment times – the battle for these will be fierce on every lap. Both FAL and FTS times will be hotly contested by a sizeable peloton, not a small front group like we saw last week.
- The race will end in a pack sprint containing 30-50% of the original starting field.
- Some riders will try to go long thanks to course features like the kicker on the backside of the Jardins, and the fact that the finish banner is visible from far off. This will force the finishing effort to be even higher (longer) than usual.
Any insights or further thoughts on the big race? Share below!