British Cycling can today announce the 15 riders that will compete for Great Britain in the second edition of the UCI Cycling Esports World Championships, taking place on Saturday 26 February 2022.
Featuring ten women and five men, with a mix of elite pros and amateur qualifiers, the team is made up of some of the strongest talent in e-racing. The event will be broadcast globally to thousands of cycling fans, as the riders vie for the chance to become a UCI world champion and don the famed rainbow stripes.
Included in the women’s team is former world-class runner and Zwift racing specialist, Mary Wilkinson, alongside UCI Women's Continental riders Hayley Simmonds and Illi Gardner (Team CAMS–Basso). The men’s lineup includes 2019 British National Hill Climb champion, Ed Laverack, and Gavin Dempster, who came third in the British E-Racing Championships in 2019. During a gruelling qualification process, they fought off hundreds of other hopefuls to secure their place in the squad.
British Cycling CEO, Brian Facer, said:
“We’re incredibly excited by the potential for e-racing to create new pathways into our sport and help us to reach a new, younger and more diverse audience, and through our partnership with Zwift we’ve been able to seamlessly integrate it into our offer for riders of all abilities. Our open qualifier saw 550 riders vying for a place in the team at this year’s championships, showcasing the strength and depth of the e-acing community across Britain, and I can’t wait to see how the team gets on later this month.”
Hayley Simmonds said:
“It's always a proud moment for me to pull on my national jersey and in this instance I'll get to wear two of them - a real-life one and a virtual one as well. Zwift racing is still a relatively new experience for me so I'm looking forward to competing, and it's crazy to think I'll be competing for a rainbow jersey inside my own house.”
Ed Laverack said:
“I'm over the moon to be included in the squad, and to get the chance to represent British Cycling in the upcoming world championships. It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and it's going to be an amazing experience to be able to share the experience with a great group of riders. Hopefully we can produce a result and do everyone proud.”
This year's race takes place on Zwift’s New York “Knickerbocker” route in a short and intense scratch race format. The 54.9km track is based on a future vision of Central Park and features a total of 944m in elevation, barely containing a flat section. Over two laps of rolling terrain, featuring gradients of up to 14%, athletes will be challenged physically and strategically, with a number of opportunities to attack. The fully remote race gives riders a unique opportunity to compete at the highest level from the comfort of their own home, and offers seven in-race ‘PowerUps’, a key feature they can use to assist them in their race for glory.
In both the Elite Men’s and Elite Women’s races, the winners will take home equal prize money (8,000 euros) and earn the right to wear the official UCI Cycling Esports world champion’s jersey in real life, with a digital version created for their avatar on the Zwift platform.
Where to watch
The UCI Cycling Esports World Championships will be broadcast live across Eurosport, discovery+, GCN+ and Zwift's YouTube channel from 6pm on Saturday 26 February 2022.
The full team line-up:
- Zoe Langham (Age: 23, 2nd BUCS hill climb, 2021 and 7th national hill climb, 2021)
- Mary Wilkinson (Age: 41, British Cycling National Masters Road Race Champion 2021)
- Illi Gardner (Age: 21, 1st Ryedale GP 2021, 3rd Ilkley Crit, 2021)
- Alice Lethbridge (Age: 37, CTT Women’s BAR winner, 2017 and 2018)
- Lou Bates (Age: 40, National hill climb champion, 2016)
- Harriet Gilson (Age: 32, 1st Zwift London International Women’s Race, 2020)
- Charlotte Colclough (Age: 37, Winner of Cycling Weekly Lockdown Series, 2021)
- Natalie Stevenson (Age: 37, 1st CTT Scottish Hill Climb Championships, 2021)
- Helen McKay (Age: 44, Silver World Masters TT, 2015)
- Hayley Simmonds (Age: 33, 2x British Elite National TT Champion, 2018, Commonwealth Games TT Bronze medallist)
- Gavin Dempster (Age: 33, 1st place at the 2018 Zwift KISS eCrit Series Live Final, 1st place overall Zwift Virtual Tour of Gila, 2020)
- Ed Laverack (Age: 27, 1st British National Hill Climb Championship 2019, U23 British RR Champion 2014)
- Joseph Rees (Age: 21, Experienced Zwift rider with Wahoo Le Col in the Zwift racing league)
- Mark Bruce (Age: 37, Member of the NeXT eSports pb Enshored Team - Premier League 2021/22 season 1 Winners)
- Andy Nichols (Age: 32, 2nd in the Masters Road Race National Championships 2021, 3rd in the National Hill Climb Championships 2021)