British Cycling, the sport’s governing body in the UK, has launched a virtual esports championship that amateur cyclists can participate in from their own homes.
The British Cycling eRacing Championships is due to take place in early 2019 and could help unearth future cycling talent.
Powered by the online cycling platform Zwift, the compeition will also introduce structured training plans to assist British Cycling’s 146,000-strong membership, including virtual rides with the Team GB cycling team.
“The esports market is particularly exciting for cycling as it enables so many more people to participate and be active,” said Jonathan Rigby, British Cycling’s commercial director.
“We are 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.”
The competition’s introduction comes hot on the heels of the International Cycling Union (UCI) announcement in September that it is to create an esports rules World Championships – though the body is still defining the format and regulations for the competition, including anti-doping measures.
It is thought that the UCI is keen to feature virtual cycling in the Olympic Games if esports does eventually gain entry in some capacity.
British Cycling’s eRacing Championship, which could launch as soon as February, will comprise of a series of qualifying rounds culminating in a live final between the top-ranked riders.
Image: British Cycling
Anyone can compete, though only British Cycling members are entitled to qualification to the finals, which will see riders challenge for a Kalas Sportswear-designed national jersey, in a multi-event model steered by a series of short races, including a time trial and elimination race.
“Wearing your country’s national stripes is a huge honour, but relatively few ever get the chance to compete,” said Eric Min, Zwift’s chief executive and co-founder.
“But that is not the case with the British Cycling eRacing Championships, powered by Zwift, as everyone in the country is eligible to throw their hat into the ring.”
Participants can join British Paralympic cyclists Steve Bate and Jody Cundy for virtual ‘group rides’ on 12th and 19th December, respectively.