An interview with Teppo Laurio!
Tell us a bit about yourself. Where do you live, and what do you do? What do you like to do for fun? Family life, that sort of stuff.
I’m Teppo Laurio from Kuopio, Finland. I work as a bike mechanic at day and race in Zwift when not working. I like skateboarding and snowboarding, but avoiding injury has become my new favorite hobby. My Bullmastiff Kisu (kitten in Finnish) is my family, and Kisu has accepted my girlfriend, so I think she is family too now.
What is your cycling story? When did you start competing, and what is your racing history? What is your most significant accomplishment racing on the road?
When I was seven, my great grandfather took me for a 60km bike ride and taught me how to ride long days. After junior years on MTB, I changed to skateboarding and snowboarding for years and got back to cycling when I was 27 or so.
I don’t have real racing history since being a DJ and musician was cooler when others were racing. When I hopped back on a bike, I built a fixed gear bike and rode it from Kuopio to Paris the following summer. 3270km in 3 weeks. On a brakeless bike with bags and a hammock. It was raining.
I made a comeback to MTB at Tahko 2019, and starting again is the most outstanding result I have got. Road racing begins in summer 2022. That will be fun.
What is your virtual cycling story? How and when did you get involved in esports? What is your most significant accomplishment racing virtually?
I started in 2017. I was training for some crazy ultra ride. Then I found out I’m kinda good at it. Then I started upgrading the setup, and after a few years, I was racing the heavy hitters and was so scared in the same pen with these guys I now race almost every day. I still do not see myself as a “heavy hitter.” It’s just me doing the same thing as I did then. I’m just a bit faster. My greatest result is getting qualified for the Worlds.
Tell us about your esports team. How has racing with your team prepared you for this moment? Is there anything unique about your team that has contributed to your success?
Wahoo Le Col. Love those guys. I have learned a lot, and now I don’t have to race with that me against everyone else mentality that I did for a couple of years.
It can be tough to race alone and be alone with the bad and good results, so the support is a new nice aspect. There are many moving parts in the team, and in such a fast team, those parts move fast, but we don’t collide.
Maybe a little nudge in the right direction sometimes, but that is support.
They took me in and gave me a chance to show what I could do.
Success without opportunity is just a daydream. So that opportunity really helped.
For a frame of reference, how tall are you, and approximately how much do you weigh in competition? What is your indoor PB for Peak Power, 15-second, 1-minute, 5-minutes, and 20-minutes?
-Height 176cm, weight somewhere between 63-66kg.
This indoor season PB’s. 15s: 1050W, 1min: 700W, 5min: 450W, 20min: 365W
What type of rider are you? Has your riding style evolved as you become more involved and successful in esports?
I would say I’m a kinda allrounder with a bit of kick. My riding style has changed. It has to change because of the pack dynamic updates and so on that come up every now and then.
But the racing altogether has changed a lot in 4 or so years. There are fewer risky moves and attacks these days, and riding the pack is a safe option. I like to make all sorts of moves because it keeps it interesting and fun, but it’s not that rewarding at the finish line.
What is your go-to training workout, and why do you enjoy it so much? Has your training emphasis and philosophy changed to make you a more successful eracer?
I don’t have a go-to workout. I try to work on things I feel I’m bad at. And I’m so new with the training stuff that I’m mainly just using myself as a human experiment. Be crazy all you want, but don’t be stupid.
What are your short and long-term esport goals? Do they involve qualifying and competing in the UCI Cycling Esports World Championship? What does that mean to you?
I’m winging it at this point, haha. PD was a goal last spring that I didn’t think would happen this soon. That was my two or 3-year goal.
Then I got into the WC qualis, and my goal was to be the fastest Teppo there. Seeing the results when I looked up was weird.
It means a lot to represent Finland in the World Championships. I have been the first Finn in many things in Zwift, and having all the things to line up in one season is just crazy.
You have accomplished so much in esports. What is it that sets you apart from other virtual athletes?
Beard. Or the hair. I don’t know. Maybe I just do it to have fun. If I can be among the fastest and have fun and smile and even laugh. I just hope all of us are having fun.
How much do you factor in the gamification side of esports? Is there a learning curve that you must master? How vital are PowerUps and other things unique to virtual cycling?
PowerUps are ok. Zwift is the Need for Speed of indoor cycling, and could you think of Need for Speed without nitrous? I like races without PU’s, and racing with them is fun too.
Learn to use them and try to make the most of them. There is a learning curve to PowerUps, but watching some high-level racing and thinking about the moves everyone is making helps with it.
Do you feel cycling esports will ever gain acceptance as a trusted discipline and gain popularity as a unique discipline? What challenges does it face?
The esport side of cycling is so new that it will change and evolve for some time. It has potential, and it has challenges. I just hope the leaps and bounces go in the right direction.
I hope World Champs and PL and other platforms inspire innovation, and there will be some big-brain guys that come along and can get the problems and challenges sorted out. I’m not that guy, and I can just hope.
Tell us about your setup. Where is it located, and what do you use? What steps do you take to verify your accuracy?
I have my bike and Wahoo KICKR V5 bolted on a Gymrail Momentum X1 rocker system. Headwind and desk fan to keep me cool.
KICKR as primary and Assioma Duo’s as secondary. I just keep them up to date and calibrate them every week.
Some cynics and detractors don’t trust the legitimacy of esports. What do you say to those who question the integrity and ability for a level playing field between competitors? What challenges does esports face in becoming recognized as a trusted competition venue?
I understand their point. The sport has to grow, and I think we have to show the cynics that it is possible.
Duals, correct weight, and so on are excellent first steps you can take.
A dual recording isn’t possible for everyone all the time, but if you hit great power, ask a friend to borrow pedals or something you can check if it’s even close.
If it’s off, then just reset and start again. It is really fun to ride fast, but it’s more fun to ride your own true pace in the long run.
Many of your fellow elite eracers have been publicly critical of the lack of standardization in esports. What is your view on the topic?
I think that’s a “double-barreled sword.” You should set limits, but you can’t limit individual athletes from buying their own equipment. At least on the community side of things. The rules are a bit different when you ride in a sponsored team, but you can only standardize so much.
You are deeply involved in cycling and how it relates to the elite esports scene. How has the landscape changed during that time, and where do you see it going?
I have been just cycling and don’t think about it too much. I surf the wheels and hope the sport turns where it should go. And it’s my first year at this level, so I should maybe start thinking about these things more 😀
My job is to do my part, but my responsibility is not to follow blindly.
What is esports' future amidst the multiple platform landscape, and where would you like to be positioned?
I have tested different platforms and like learning, analyzing, and comparing them. I want to be OK in all of them. You know a metalhead can learn from jazz, a rapper can learn from rock‘n roll. Maybe I want to be in the center of it all. HAHA
Esports has come a long way in a short time. What do you envision it will be like in five years and further into the future? What will it take to get it there?
I hope in five years that I will see the young guns flying past me and have as much fun as I’m having. There will be hits and misses, but I’m optimistic. It needs some listening both ways.
After listening, there should be understanding. After that, there is just the action bit. And who doesn’t like action? Like the Arnold classic, Predator, an awesome action flick.
Okay, I need a juicy exclusive. Tell us something about yourself that none of your fellow racers or fans know about you? Please?!?
The floor is yours! Is there anything you would like to say?
Thank you for sharing, Teppo!
Semi-retired as owner and director of his private Orthopedic Physical Therapy practice after over 20 years, Chris is blessed with the freedom to pursue his passion for virtual cycling and writing. On a continual quest to give back to his bike for all the rewarding experiences and relationships it has provided him, he created a non-profit. Chris is committed to helping others with his bike through its work and the pages of his site.
In the summer of 2022, he rode 3,900 miles from San Francisco to New York to support the charity he founded, TheDIRTDadFund. His “Gain Cave” resides on the North Fork of Long Island, where he lives with his beautiful wife and is proud of his two independent children.
You will read him promoting his passion on the pages of Cycling Weekly, Cycling News, road.cc, Zwift Insider, and Bicycling. Chris is co-host of The Virtual Velo Podcast, too!