There will now be an ‘eRacing’ championship, the first of its kind in the world, in the Great Britain thanks to a partnership between British Cycling and the virtual racing and training game Zwift.
Zwift is a multiplayer online cycling and running video game and physical training program that lets its users train and compete in virtual cycling.
British Cycling, the main national governing body for cycling sports in Great Britain, has agreed to a two-year partnership with Zwift to accommodate the eRacing championships.
“The eSports market is particularly exciting for cycling as it enables so many more people to participate and be active,” said British Cycling commercial director Jonathan Rigby on the federation’s website.
The eRacing National Championship is set to start in February or March 2019 and will be open to all riders.
In order to get into the tournament, riders will have to race through a number of qualifying events. The best performers of the qualifiers will then go through a number of different race formats, with a national champion’s jersey awarded to the winner.
To qualify for the finals, however, riders must first have to be a member of British Cycling.
“We’re thrilled to be exploring this new territory with Zwift to innovate in cycle sport. Their technology and our cycling expertise will together allow communities of cyclists to get more out of riding bikes for competition and for fun,” added Rigby.
Competitive cycling teams, such as the women’s team Canyon-SRAM and men’s WorldTour team Dimension Data, have been using Zwift to scout for riders for the last two years.
British Cycling will also be using the virtual ‘indoor national championships’ to help find potential cycling stars in the future.
“We’re also excited about what this could mean for identifying talent. We’re proud to have a wealth of gifted riders competing on the world stage and are confident that Zwift technology will enable us to unearth more future stars,” said Rigby.
Cycling now joins the likes of basketball, football, and motorsports, among others, in the ranks of traditional sports intersecting with esports through competitions.
“Cycling as an eSport is different to many other sports because it’s not virtual; you have to push on the pedals, so it’s a real physical effort,” said Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) president David Lappartient in a statement to Cyclingnews.
UCI, the world’s governing body for cycling, has expressed its intentions to launch a global championship for cycling esports.
“We’re very interested in virtual sports as well as traditional outdoor racing. We’re looking to the future of every of aspect of cycling, and so we’re keen to help virtual cycling develop,” said Lappartient.
“We could one day see Peter Sagan competing in esports races. I think that would be great for cycling,” he added.