Fans of the British road racing scene are likely familiar with Ed Laverack. Prior to the pandemic, the 27-year-old Welshman had spent most of the last decade racing at continental level in the UK alongside the likes of Ed Clancy, Hugh Carthy and a host of British racing stalwarts with the Rapha Condor / JLT team. But far more than just an extra name on the start list, Laverack himself is a two-time national champion: first as an under-23, winning the national road race championships in 2014; and secondly, as National Hill Climb champion, winning atop Haytor Vale in Devon with a record-breaking time in 2019.
As the pandemic reared its ugly head, Laverack took to the indoor racing scene like the rest of us and continued to see success. Two years on and he currently races in the Zwift Premier League with the Wahoo Le Col eSports team. His continued success has not gone unnoticed, and Laverack was recently selected as part of a five-man contingent to take on the UCI Cycling Esports World Championships on 26 February, alongside Gavin Dempster, Joseph Rees, Mark Bruce and Andy Nichols. British Cycling will also field a 10-strong team in the women's race.
We were given the opportunity to take a look at Laverack's 'pain cave' ahead of the race, complete with custom lighting, microphone boom and more.
Laverack will take on the world championships aboard a Tifosi Auriga road bike. This carbon-fibre frame is fitted with a Shimano Ultegra groupset, Deda cockpit components, and a Fizik Arione saddle. The bike is clearly used for more than indoor racing, though, since it's still fitted with lights and a Jango tool roll beneath the saddle.
Perhaps the most notable feature of Laverack's pain cave is his lighting set-up, as shown in the image above. With a light strip beneath the desk up front, Laverack added the small blue spotlights at the rear afterwards as a way to add depth to video footage when streaming his races.
Speaking of streams, Laverack has his own Youtube channel on which he vlogs aspects of daily life, training and Zwift rides. The lighting is one of a few concessions towards these recordings, alongside the microphone boom arm, both courtesy of Blue Inc, which allow him to speak mid-ride - no doubt a feature that will prove useful when talking tactics with his Team GB teammates.
For the World Championships, Laverack will use the newer Wahoo Kickr V5, as supplied by Wahoo as the official partner of the race. However, for the time being, his Kickr 18 remains in situ while he awaits delivery of the newer model.
Once received, he will need to verify the trainer's serial number and calibrate the new trainer alongside a string of other strict measures put in place by the Zwift Accuracy and Data Analysis (ZADA) team to combat cheating. Among those for most riders is the ZADA Power Test, in which riders are required to perform a series of maximum-power attempts whilst recording themselves. The purpose of this is to give ZADA a benchmark of what power a rider is capable of putting out, and it is then cross-referenced against historical power files. Since the Zwift Racing League Premier Division follows the same protocols, Laverack isn't technically required to perform the Power Test, however, since his previous test results expire the day after the World Championships, Laverack says he'll probably do it anyway.
Laverack will be running Zwift on an Alienware Alpha PC, hooked up to a hand-me-down large screen TV, and paired with a wireless Logitech keyboard and a wireless mouse. A Logitech Streamcam webcam sits atop the TV, and streaming is done through a program called Streamlabs. This is all placed onto a standard desk, which sits behind a Wahoo Kickr Desk and a Kickr Headwind, both supplied by the Wahoo Le Col eSports team.
We asked Laverack if he had taken any unusual approaches to improve his setup in the pursuit of comfort or marginal gains, following Brian Duffy, Jr's approach of creating a platform and bolting his trainer to it to prevent it from moving when sprinting.
"I'm not producing massive watts in sprints to require weights on my turbo," he joked, but there is one creative solution on show. Eagle-eyed viewers may have noticed that Laverack's front wheel is placed into a riser block. Given the adjustable height of the direct-drive Kickr turbo trainer, there is no need to add a riser block, since the Kickr holds the rear wheel at the same height that a 700c wheel would, which in turn would leave the bike level when the front wheel is placed on the floor. However, Laverack says he prefers riding in the raised position - perhaps a symptom of his penchant for riding uphill.
Laverack was coy on his chances for the race, claiming that Team GB's biggest strength is that it's reasonably unknown, in comparison to other nations. "Expect me to be active," he says, "but active conservatively."
The UCI Cycling Esports World Championships will be broadcast live on Eurosport, discovery+, GCN+ and Zwift's YouTube channel from 6pm on Saturday 26 February 2022.
Thank you for reading 5 articles this month*
Join now for unlimited access
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription
after your trial you will be billed £4.99 $7.99 €5.99 per month, cancel anytime. Or sign up for one year for just £49 $79 €59
Join now for unlimited access
Try your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
Josh has been with us as Senior Tech Writer since the summer of 2019 and throughout that time he's covered everything from buyer's guides and deals to the latest tech news and reviews. On the bike, Josh has been riding and racing for over 15 years. He started out racing cross country in his teens back when 26-inch wheels and triple chainsets were still mainstream, but he found favour in road racing in his early 20s, racing at a local and national level for Team Tor 2000. He's always keen to get his hands on the newest tech, and while he enjoys a good long road race, he's much more at home in a local criterium.