The fourth race of Zwift Racing League 2022/23 Round 1 happens Tuesday, October 4th. We’re in Paris on the iconic Champs-Élysées, the finishing roads of each year’s Tour de France.
Let’s dig into the race, including tips for bike choice, powerups, strategy, and crucial segments.
Looking at the Route: Champs-Élysées
Watching Tour de France pros race these cobbles each year 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 1.3km climb even has a name – the Montée des Champs Élysées!
It’s not a steep climb, averaging just 2.1%. But this is where the big efforts happen each lap, especially because we’ve got an intermediate sprint near the top of the climb.
The only other bump worth mentioning is the dip down and 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 – 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!
Per-Category Race Lengths
Each lap is 6.6km, and you’ve got a 3.2km lead-in from the start pens. This week each category will be riding a different number of laps, which is something we don’t see much in ZRL. A riders will race 7 laps (49.5km, 289m), B will race 6 (42.9km, 250m), C will race 5 (36.3km, 210m) and D will race 4 (29.7km, 171m).
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 each lap. 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 also 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.
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) (50%): makes you more aerodynamic (reduces your CdA by 25%) for 15 seconds. Use this if you’re contesting the sprint intermediate, sprinting for the finish, attempting an attack at high speed, or just trying to catch a breather in the peloton on flat or descending road.
Steamroller (25%): reduces Crr for 30 seconds so you roll as fast as a road tire on pavement regardless of wheels or road surface. Since this entire route is cobbled, you can use the steamroller to save watts wherever you’d like. The faster you’re going, the more watts you’ll save. See note below for more…
Burrito (25%): turns off draft effect for riders within a 2.5m radius for 10 seconds. Use it when attacking off the front so opponents have to work harder to follow you, or use it in the group to make everyone work harder for a bit.
The steamroller has a huge effect when riding on dirt, but what sort of effect will it have on 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. The smartest place to use this may be at the start of the Lutece Sprint, since it will give you a bit of a boost during the sprint and help you carry speed through to the flat.
Bike Frame + Wheel Choice
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.
More Route Recons
Many events are now being planned each weekend on the upcoming ZRL route. If you’re not familiar with this course, jump into an event and do some recon! Here’s a list of upcoming Champs-Élysées events.
Looking for a video recon, with lovely British commentary to boot? Check out Si’s recon below:
Points Distribution, Champs-Élysées
A Category (7 Laps)
B Category (6 Laps)
C Category (5 Laps)
D Category (4 Laps)
These charts show the maximum points a team of 6 could earn in each race.
What strategies will riders employ in race 4? Here’s what we predict:
- Breaking Up + Reuniting: The peloton will largely string out through the sprint banner each lap, but reform on the descent and flat that follows. Small numbers of riders will be shelled off the back each lap.
- FTS Battle: 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. With that said, powerups will dictate which riders attack which laps, with earlier laps generally seeing faster times because of fresher legs.
- FAL Bonanza: as you can see from the charts above, sprint FAL points account for a huge portion of overall race points. Teams with a smart FAL strategy will win the day, especially in the higher categories. Watch for teams to send solo riders off the front early as decoys. You may also see brave groups of teammates go off the front a bit early and attempt to grab FAL points on particular laps.
- Painful Powerups: the burrito powerup will be deployed on the sprint up the Montée des Champs Élysées, making this painful bit hurt even more.
- Going Long: 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 this race? Share below!