ZwiftPower.com is a magical website that provides a plethora of information essential to the indoor riding enthusiast and Zwift eracer. Zwift Power rankings are one of the many popular features. After each race, ranking points are awarded based on the quality and size of the field. The formula is more complex than the scope of this article, but in a nutshell, the lower the points, the better the result.
Liz Van Houweling has been a top-10 ranked female Zwift eracer for quite some time, finished fifth in the UCI 2022 Cycling Esports World Championships, and competes almost exclusively on the virtual platform. In May of 2022, Liz captured the elusive #1 ranking and carried it through the entire indoor riding “off-season.”
How did Top-Ranked Zwift Eracer Van Houweling get there? “Well, I suppose primarily just by racing high-quality races!” she explains. “It was never my main goal to be ranked #1, but I enjoy hard races with a wealth of ranking points available.”
For Liz, this is easiest to achieve racing in the men’s/mixed fields, and that is what she’s been doing the entire summer. Some of Top-Ranked Zwift Eracer Liz’s favorite challenging ranking reward races include:
- TFC Mad Monday in Low A
- ZRL Mixed A
- Wednesday Worlds with Nathan Guerra
- Oh My Crit!!
Indoor Season is Here
Now that the indoor racing season is heating up, what’s next for the World’s #1 Zwifter? Will she try to defend her spot on the top? According to Liz, it’s emphatic, “The short answer is no, not at all! Since it was never my primary goal, it’s easy to let it go. I want to continue to focus on how to make myself better.”
A self-proclaimed “Racing Junkie,” which Van Houweling admits helps her in the rankings, confesses that it may not be best for her and the team. Liz, a cycling coach specializing in virtual athletes, plans to follow some of her advice and incorporate more disciplined, structured training into her program.
A Training Plan is the Plan
“I’ve never done the Zwift Academy,” she notes, “So I’m looking forward to using that as an opportunity for forced structure! I’m not super enthusiastic about workouts, but I’m hoping ZA will help me build mental strength in addition to physical strength.”
With Zwift Academy, the Zwift Grand Prix with her Saris NoPinz teammates, and a few other race commitments taking up a lot of time (and leg capacity!), Van Houweling made the difficult decision to forego racing in the upcoming community Zwift Racing League season with her mixed A Pro Vision teammates. “I know this will cost me race rankings and a great deal of fun,” she laments, knowing it’s for the best.
Confidence in Summer Season Success
With a consistent dose of hard, mixed-field races in her legs, Van Houweling is looking forward to testing her fitness against her respected colleagues in women’s only fields this fall. She knows that many of her fellow female competitors will return from real-life racing, making the women’s esports scene exciting and competitive.
“I don’t feel I have a target on my back,” and she questions, “I’m not even sure how many people pay attention to race rankings!” But everybody also realizes summer is a strange time for indoor racing with varying field sizes and often less depth of competitiveness.
However, Van Houweling hopes to take confidence from her summer season success into the heart of the esports racing season. “I want to spice things up with my Saris NoPinz teammates while we try out new racing formats,” she states, “and look forward to the world championships in February!” It may mean sacrificing some ranking points, but she’ll be having fun and getting stronger doing it!
It’s an incredible achievement to be the World’s top-ranked eracer on ZwiftPower for so long, but Liz knows racing, and life in general, isn’t all about being ranked #1. For her, it’s about backing up that ranking with being first across the line in the races that matter.
More than that, it’s about the journey and beauty of the sport. “Looking back on my Zwift career,” Van Houweling reflects, “I started as a way to feel fit again after having kids. I eventually became competitive. The elite team Saris NoPinz took me in and allowed me to race some of the best women in the world. I even represented the USA and raced in a world championship.”
Liz has met (virtually and IRL) so many incredible people and developed amazing relationships during this time. She is more confident in her everyday life and believes it makes her a better parent.
Would Liz love to stay ranked #1? “Heck yes!” emphatic again. “But will it change my experience and passion for the Zwift world when I’m inevitably knocked off the top spot? Of course not. I’ll still be here, racing hard and having fun!”
What do you think?
If you held the top ranking, would you try to keep it? Comment below! Your fellow virtual cyclists want to know.
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!