With the Tour de France postponed till the month of August, the virtual Tour de France (vTDF) fills up the empty summer holiday-weekends in the first three weeks of July. With six stages ahead, some in new Zwift-maps, ISN is looking forward to another eRacing challenge.
Israel Start-Up Nation has been actively engaging with the relatively new formats of competition, joining different races on different platforms, as well as organizing races itself during the Medical Aid Series by Reinvent.com and ChitChats Canada. With all the eRacing experience, ISN is now preparing for another – and probably the most prestigious eRace till now – the Virtual Tour de France on Zwift.
The vTdF is a six-day race spread over three weekends, starting tomorrow (Saturday). Read more here.
After the experiences of virtual Tour de Suisse, the Tour for All and also our Independence Day Spectacle Race, it is safe to say that eRacing is not comparable with road racing at all, but given the fact that ISN did so many events on the platform, we can truly call ourselves experienced with the game.
“It is not the same indeed”, Israel Cycling Academy continental rider Freddy Ovett agrees. The Australian has been using the game actively during the Covid-19 lockdown, and looks to be racing the maximum number of stages in the Virtual Tour de France in July. He won the first stage in the Tour for All, beating Rigoberto Uran and Mathieu van der Poel in a sprint.
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had a lot of fun channeling my inner gamer and taking part this week in the @gozwift Tour For All event with @israelcyclingacademy 🎮. 2x stage wins for the team and I came close yesterday up the Alpe until a sudden exit in the last km 😬.. In all the event raised over 250,000 to support the medical workers currently fighting #Covid19. It’s nice to see the pro-cycling community get together in tough times to fight a far greater cause than our sport. Cheers to all those involved – @eurosport @globalcyclingnetwork @beukeb00m @factorbikes @greghendersonnzl
“The system favors riders with good w/kg numbers and a decent sprint. That fits my profile quite well so it helped me a lot in the races”, he says.
According to James Piccoli, also stage winner in the Tour for All, it is the experience that makes the difference. “Israel Start-Up Nation has been very active with eRacing and that is indeed how we got the hang of the platform.”
Ovett: “It takes some time to learn the ins and outs, just like it works with every other game.”
‘Tips and tricks document’
So is there a secret according to them? Ovett does not really think so. “I think it is not as complicated as people make it. It is mostly about being able to do high-intensity training and intervals on an indoor trainer and enjoying to compete virtually.”
It is beneficial to know the route beforehand, Ovett mentions, “as well as knowing how the drafting works on Zwift. Don’t get dropped, sprint well at the end, and that is pretty much it.”
ISN-climber Piccoli says that there are some strategies and techniques for eRacing. “We do have a specific group for chatting about eRacing with the team, in which we discuss about our impressions with the platform to update a ‘tips and tricks’ document. During the races, we are in touch with each other, sometimes on Discord, and sometimes the ‘eRacing Director Sportive’ gives instructions via WhatsApp.”
‘Drafting requires skill’
ISN indeed has a ‘secret document’ with all the information the team absorbed till now. It consists of all the details from every single Zwift update and everything that has been read by ISN staff members. The team has been doing that continuously towards the vTDF.
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It seemed early, maybe too early, but was actually right on time: the WINNING ATTACK by JAMES PICCOLI to claim the victory in stage 3 of the Tour for All on Zwift! With 500 meters to go, he used his featherweight power-up (an in-game weight advantage for 15 seconds) and blasted away from the first group that he created himself some kilometers before. What followed was a huge one-minute effort, with 190 beats per minute heart rate, constantly pushing more than 650 watts and a fantastic solo victory on the Epic Kom. 25 points for the GC in the pocket. “With 500 meters to go I felt like using the power-up and just going all out: head down and pushing as hard as I could”, Picolli said after the finish. He praised his teammates, with who he had discussed a lot over the last few days to get to know eRacing tactic as good as possible. “We have some true Zwift Wizards in the team and we had a good race tactic for today. I am super excited it worked out so well.” Behind him Mads Würz Schmidt taking 11th, and Israel Cycling Academy-rider Omer Lahav finishing 17th. ISN is now third in the GC, with 163 points. We will see @jamespiccoli back in stage 5, as well as the first stage winner Freddy Ovett. But first tomorrow: stage 4: pretty much as flat as a pancake and the final chance for sprinters. And very first now: a well-deserved @farnesevini glass of wine! #eRacing #TourForAll #partofthevictory #changeyourride #yallaisrael #poweredby4iiii #Farnesevini #vinifantini
Most of those tips are about the in-game drafting: Basically one does not want to be in the top-4 of a group, as the drafting is not as evident as further back. However, being in the back of the group is dangerous, as gaps might appear especially on uphill or downhill sections. Finding the right balance depends on the group’s size and on the route and is practically different each race.
eRacing is a discipline to stay
As the rules of the games sometimes change (by updates in the system), it is a continuous effort to keep informed about the eRacing techniques. Therefore it feels like a whole new discipline in the world of cycling.
There is track-cycling, BMX, MTB, CX, road racing and now also eRacing. All disciplines require a bike, but they’re all very different from each other and being good in one discipline does not automatically mean that one is good in the other too. Also, many riders would dream of real-life power-ups, losing 9.5 kilograms on a steep climb.
ISN does think eRacing is here to stay. The professionalism of the races has been developing a lot over time. It will never replace real road racing, obviously, but eRacing is a great and playful way to keep competitive juices flowing in for instance winter (or Covid-19) times. Given the fact that the vTDF, and other races in the future, is broadcasted in so many countries is obviously a motivation for teams to perform.