Coming off a strong showing in the UCI Cycling Esports World Championships as Switzerland’s only representative Melanie shares a bit about herself.
An interview with Melanie Maurer.
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 live in Switzerland in a small city. I work as a training therapist and coach for endurance athletes and I am a semiprofessional Triathlete and Duathlete.
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 in 2019 Corona came, I started to improve my training on the bike and also race some cycling races. I was then selected by the Swiss Federation for the Cycling Road European and World Championship in 2020, which was pretty cool. In 2021 I joined a French UCI Continental Team and did one season with them. So I would say the World Champs in Imola are my highlight in road racing so far. I finished the race 74th out of 140 riders.
What is your virtual cycling story? How and when did you get involved in esports? What is your most significant accomplishment racing virtually?
Phew. A long time ago! My first real race on Zwift was in 2019, it was the National Champs where I won, which made me very proud back then. Later I was invited for the Z Pro Tri-Series, which I loved to race. I wanted to race Premier League and started with CRYO-Gen and changed to Heino after one season. Now I raced in the UCI World Champs which was a dream come true.
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?
Heino is a team full of role models for me. They know exactly how to pace themselves, how to sprint and when, and many other skills which are necessary to be a race successful on Zwift. Also, they are very lovely and funny people. And of course, we have the best DS; Lars Husballe!
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?
I am 163cm and between 50-52kg. Peak Power: 15sec.: 11.07wkg, 1min.: 7.68wkg, 5min.: 5.45wkg, 20min.: 250W
What type of rider are you? Has your riding style evolved as you become more involved and successful in esports?
I think I am a climber IRL, in esports maybe more an allrounder.
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 really like over-under sessions. It’s challenging but feasible. Since I am a sports scientist I am very interested in the perfect planning of training, so I am up to date and I love to try new training methods.
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?
The World Champs was the ultimate goal in esports for me. After that, I don’t know yet if I will continue to race in PD or not. Let’s see!
You have accomplished so much in esports. What is it that sets you apart from other virtual athletes?
I think one of my strong points is, that I can really be in that tunnel and suffer in my pain cave until the work is done. No matter what. I try to keep the focus, having my goals in my mind.
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?
I must say that these things are not really my strength and I don’t like to deal with changes in the game such as new drafts or something like that. I’m getting better and better, knowing that it is a very important factor if you want to be a successful rider. It certainly is not enough just to have the power in your legs.
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?
I am hoping it will, but when I see how little some Cycling Federations care about eracing and their riders, I don’t think it will change in the near future, which is really sad.
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 a little pain cave in my apartment with a treadmill and my Wahoo Kickr V5 and a bike on it.
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 think we really have to see it as two different sports. So road cycling is a sport and esports is another. The last season of PD showed good enough that professional road cyclists are not able to keep up with the best riders in esports and we all know that most eracers aren’t the best riders on the road when it comes down to technique etc. I don’t want to generalize, but eracing is a new discipline in the sport of cycling and must not be compared to road cycling, but it deserves the same respect.
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 see it getting more and more professional, also the teams having contracts with their riders and ZADA who strives to make the sport as fair and transparent as possible!
Okay, I need a juicy exclusive. Tell us something about yourself that none of your fellow racers or fans know about you? Please?!?
I always eat Gummi Bears during races or hard intervals.
Thank you for sharing, Melanie!
The floor is yours! Is there anything you would like to say?
Good luck to all the esports racers! Enjoy it and let’s have a party!!
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, Endurance.biz, and Bicycling. Chris is co-host of The Virtual Velo Podcast, too!