Campenaerts headlines 2023 Esports World Championships start list

Victor Campenaerts of Lotto Dstny is on the start list for the third UCI Esports World Championships that will be held this Saturday, February 18.

The former World Hour Record holder will take to Zwift’s new Scotland course among a field of 85 men’s riders, while the women’s race will play host to 87 competitors, including reigning champion Loes Adegeest.

Launched in 2020, the Esports Worlds has been won by Adegeest, Jason Osbourne, Jay Vine, and Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio, while major road racing names such as Tom Pidcock, Lauren Stephens, Edvald Boasson Hagen, and Sarah Gigante have also taken part over the first two editions. 

Campenaerts regularly uses Zwift for training and has raced on Zwift during the winter.

Vine will not defend his title after moving to UAE Team Emirates and winning the Tour Down Under. He is riding the Volta ao Algarve instead, with Freddy Ovett part of a strong Australian team.  

Both men and women will race on the same courses on Saturday, and a new format has been introduced for 2023, with three races on the menu and riders eliminated after each race.

The 2023 UCI Esports World Championships will start at 6pm GMT (10am PST) with live coverage available via Zwift’s Youtube channel as well as GCN’s Youtube channel.

Cyclingnews will have full reports from the races, plus reaction and news.

The 14km ‘The Punch’, taking in two steep wall-like climbs on Zwift’s Rolling Highlands course, will be the setting for the opening race of three. 

30 riders progress from there to the second race – ‘The Climb’ on the City and Sgurr course – an 8.6km test with 161 metres of climbing across three major climbs on the route.

Finally, 10 riders from each of the men’s and women’s peloton will progress to the final race, ‘The Podium’, held on the Glasgow Crit Circuit. Riders will take on four laps of a 3km loop including one major climb midway through. 

The finale is an elimination race, ending with the final three riders battling for the win on the last lap.

The shaken-up format should refresh the Esports Worlds, which had previously been run in a similar way to regular road racing as a peloton battled it out over one course to find the world champion. Zwift’s power-ups (opens in new tab), a series of artificial bonuses which give riders temporary speed and weight boosts, will still be available.

Several familiar faces will be on the start list on Sunday, with Campenaerts and Adegeest joined by Osbourne, Belgian Lionel Vujasin, Ovett, Mary Wilkinson, and Jaqui Godbe.

Vine built his road racing career via the Zwift Academy platform and so it was tough for him to miss this year’s world championships.

“Combining road racing with eSports has been important to me, to honour my development pathway through cycling, as well as the privilege of representing Australia alongside my wife Brie,” Vine said.

“For now, this balance will have to shift towards my professional road racing career, and as such, I won’t be able to defend my rainbow stripes at the 2023 UCI Cycling Esports World Championships.”

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