Jason Osborne (Germany) won the inaugural men's race at the UCI Esports World Championships, powering away from the peloton on the final climb to the finish to seal a solo win in Watopia.
The Danish duo of Anders Foldager and Nicklas Pedersen rounded out the podium, crossing the line just 1.74 and 2.09 seconds down on Osborne respectively, while Canada's Matteo Dal-Cin was the best pro road racer, coming in seventh place.
"It was a completely new experience for me," said professional rower Osborne after the finish. "I've raced some Zwift races before but obviously this is a much bigger event. The field was very tough with top guys. I just tried to keep calm, keep with the pack and left it all for the finish.
"I know how to hurt myself a little. Obviously, Zwift isn't really comparable to outside cycling, where there's so much more going on. It's experience that wins in Zwift – the guys who know how to race it.
"Obviously, I took that strength from rowing to cycling today and it worked really well."
A total of 78 men took the start in the men's race, with a number of big-name road pros lining up at the virtual start line atop their regulation Tacx NEO 2T smart trainers.
Belgium were led by Hour Record holder Victor Campenaerts, while his compatriot Thomas De Gendt was part of the wildcard team. Rigoberto Urán and Esteban Chaves represented Colombia, while Tom Pidcock (Great Britain), Alberto Bettiol (Italy), Edvald Boasson Hagen (Norway), Lawson Craddock (USA) and Michael Valgren (Denmark) also took part.
The 50-kilometre course was the same as the women's race, taking in the Figure-8 Reverse course on the fictional Zwift island of Watopia. The total elevation gained was 483 metres with a total of four climbs, two times up each of the Zwift KOM reverse (2.5km at 1.8 per cent) and the Zwift KOM (0.9km at 5 per cent), with the finish located at the top of the second time up the KOM.
Only the Aero and Lightweight powerups were available to use during the race, with Aero giving a 15-second aerodynamic boost and Lightweight reducing rider's weight by 10 per cent for 15 seconds.
Australia's Jack Haig was a notable name to lose contact early on as Daryl Impey (South Africa), Chaves, Impey and De Gendt were among other notable names to fall minutes behind in the first half of the action.
Boasson Hagen was among those prominent at the front of the peloton, mingling with Zwift specialists and fellow pros Valgren and Campenaerts.
Pidcock put in a dig after 40 minutes of racing – a rare move given the 18 kilometres left to run of the 50-kilometre course. The Briton was quickly charged down, however, and the Reverse KOM that followed didn't herald any major changes in the group, which remained at around 30 riders.
Canada took to the front over the top with Sanders, Chretien and Dal-Cin pushing on at the head of the group, which had been lined out by the high pace.
Nobody tried anything in the final 10 kilometres until Canada once again put their clearly devised game plan into action by shooting Cheyne, Chretien and Sanders up the road five kilometres from the line.
Cheeyne led the way alone into the final three kilometres before Belgium's Harm Vanhoucke caught and passed him, just a handful of seconds ahead of the charging peloton which still included a swathe of big names.
By the two-kilometre mark, it was all back together on the front with the riders awaiting the final climb to the finish. Cheyne tried his luck once more shortly afterwards, using his aero powerup to try and get clear, though he'd be caught just before the flamme rouge.
Lightweight powerup badges lit up the peloton on the climb as the riders sought out every advantage they could get on the six per cent slopes.
The German duo of Rapp and Osborne hit the front in the final 500 metres, timing their move to perfection on the run to the line. Osborne then jumped away alone, outsmarting the more famous names and using his aero powerup late on to secure a solo victory.
|Rider Name (Country) Team
|Jason Osborne (Germany)
|Anders Foldager (Denmark)
|Nicklas Pedersen (Denmark)
|Ollie Jones (New Zealand)
|Ben Hill (Australia)
|Lionel Vujasin (Belgium)
|Matteo Dal-Cin (Canada)
|Freddy Ovett (Australia)
|Ryan Larson (USA)
|Jonas Hvideberg (Norway)
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Daniel Ostanek is Senior News Writer at Cyclingnews, having joined in 2017 as a freelance contributor and later being hired full-time. Prior to joining the team, they had written for numerous major publications in the cycling world, including CyclingWeekly, Rouleur, and CyclingTips.
Daniel has reported from the world's top races, including the Tour de France and the spring Classics, and has interviewed many of the sport's biggest stars, including Wout van Aert, Remco Evenepoel, Demi Vollering, and Anna van der Breggen.
As well as original reporting, news and feature writing, and production work, Daniel also oversees The Leadout newsletter and How to Watch guides throughout the season. Their favourite races are Strade Bianche and the Volta a Portugal.
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