Zwift Grand Prix Men’s Round Three Race Report by Wahoo le Col’s Mercurial Fin Teppo Laurio!
The Zwift Grand Prix series has been really fun to watch from the sidelines as I have been working towards becoming a better me.
I have been trying to get my legs and lungs back after a tough summer of being sick and unable to train much.
Being chosen for the Zwift Grand Prix Men’s Round three roster motivated me to try some new ways to get back in shape in a schedule.
Finally, the progress started to show in the last weeks of the Zwift Racing League, and then I got the message from John that it was time to race in round 3.
Time to tune the rocker system for all-out sprinting and get the final training sessions done.
The Zwift Grand Prix Men’s Round Three format is Squad Squirmish, a series of rapid-fire all-out slugfests. The races range from the 300-meter Downtown Short Sprint, where racers attack the segment four times, to the 1.9km Hilly Loop Hill Climb, where racers tackle the 57m ascent twice.
What team will be left standing on the podium’s top step when the donnybrook is over, and all body blows have been thrown?
Zwift Grand Prix Men’s Round Three—Squad Skirmish Format Overview
The qualification round is three different races that racers will run multiple times. The teams will divide their riders between races 1, 2, and 3. No more than two racers per team are permitted in each race, making the field sizes range from 12 to 24 riders.
The racers will be waiting in the pens before the race starts, and only the racers chosen will leave so that racers won’t know their competition ahead of time. Racers must compete in the same race for the entire round.
The top five teams progress to the final stage, where they begin the racer selection process again. A maximum of two riders per team compete in races 4, 5, and 6, and the races ride them once.
Pre-Race and Race Prep—Zwift Grand Prix Men’s Round Three
Races starting at 21:15 (9:15 pm) and continuing for about 2 hours make it a bit tougher to prepare for these races. I went into bed late for a few nights to have at least a bit more energy on Friday.
11:00: Get up and out of bed
12:40: Spin the legs for 45 min.
15:30: Have a light meal
18:00: Spin the legs again for 45 min.
19:30-20:30: Watch Columbo
20:45: Get in the pen
21:15: Race One
The Race—Zwift Grand Prix Men’s Round Three
I was very nervous the whole time I was in the pen since it was my first race in the Zwift Grand Prix series and these new formats.
I saw all the heavy hitters on the line, as expected—Thrall, Cooman, Svendsen, Guld, Power, and so on.
I knew I might need more raw watts to match some of the guys, but I can do my own thing well. Now just time to have as much fun as possible. I set my goal to 1 point and set off to do my best.
Time for Event 1
All focus on the first pedal strokes because after that you don’t have to think too much. Just go with the plan, and don’t let up. No draft, so it’s all about you.
My plan for the first one was to go a bit easier on the first kick and get the timing for the gear change and final kick right.
Thrall and Cooman were the primary opponents for this one since they are closest in the series leaderboard.
5. 4. 3. 2. 1. GO, And it’s over. What happened?
I ended up taking 3rd passing Thrall just before the finish line with the downhill kick.
4 points. Now everything is a bonus!
I was listening to the team discord while the race was going on.
From the start, I heard Tim (Rugg) shoot out of the pen and get a little gap, and just Eddy (Hoole) came after him. Then it got loud in the voice chat.
Tim was doing Tim stuff, and he played it perfectly, changing the wheels at the right time, and Marc (Mading) did his job taking good points in the sprint.
They got 20 points for the team, which took an enormous weight off my shoulders.
Maybe it’s good that I forget things really fast when I focus on something I need to do right now.
I kicked at 18wkg for the lift-off, held it, changed gears, and pushed it to the finish line.
I knew it was working when I passed Guld at the line.
I earned 4 more points for the team.
We were in the top spot after 3 races, and the first climb race was up next.
I started stressing about the 3rd race cause I was getting ready to go all out for the last 2 races.
Then it happened.
The guys left the pen a bit easier. Everything was ok for the first 1.5km. Alvarado attacked at the hairpin, but just when it was time to go, he lost resistance and dropped fast.
Also, Hywel finished outside the points, so I got the news that now I have to start racing to get us in the final rounds.
Time to fight for 2nd place.
Svendsen was on another level, so I knew I couldn’t take 0.3s off my time, but the gap to Cooman might be shrinking if I keep at it.
I had to do my PB effort and go after Cooman.
3rd again. But the gap was closing to Cooman, and I did my PB for 20-sec this year.
Lots of covering the moves on the 2nd Tempus Fugit race.
More about positioning and timing to get the points.
It was a very different race from the first one.
Marc got us 7 points, so I still have to do my best to help out the guys in the 8th race.
It was the last one of these crazy short sprint races.
The gap was closing, and I knew the 4th of these might be a bit slower than the first 3.
I was slower, but not that much.
I finally got the 5 points, and I did my job. For now!
Things went better for us because Jamrozik (Velocio) attacked straight from the start, and Andrian got the points we needed for the final rounds.
I’m pretty bad at math when I’m nervous, tired, sleeping, or awake.
Now I was in two of the first and between the last two options.
So I was pulling my hair out and waiting to hear if I got to race one more time.
We made it!
It would be the longest stage of the day and the closest thing we got to a typical race.
Andrian and Hywel were in the front in the first half to keep the pace high before the fireworks started.
I heard our DS telling Andrian, “Do what you want. It’s all you.”
And then Andrian did Adrian things. Long attack and 1st place.
Tim was able to get the best result with what he had, thanks to the best PU for him at this point.
And then I heard in the chat that it would have been a perfect setup for me in that race. I heard things but couldn’t listen to anything because I was in panic mode.
During Tim’s race, my internet connection disappeared. I was off the bike, shutting everything down, restarting my PC, and hoping it would restart in time.
I got my connection back.
Now just waiting to get back to Watopia to get into the lobby.
HR was 160bpm on the pairing screen while doing nothing other than stressing about my lobby invite.
It wasn’t optimal.
But I was back online and on the bike, in a pen stacked with the scariest guys on Zwift for this kind of race.
I powered out of the pen and had to stretch my legs, let some power out, and get the system running before the fireworks on the rollers. All went well, and we were in the right spots with Marc after the pitts.
Marc made a little move at the front, and I followed the wheels of Lenny and Zach (Nehr) to prepare for the final 900m of pain.
Well, I had a little resistance drop with the last few rollers, and then I just had to do that little bit too much to get back on those wheels. When the next roller came, I had already burned that match and dropped like a stone.
Marc has excellent timing on the Titan’s Rev KOM and the power to match that, so I knew he would do his best, and if it comes to a sprint, it would be his.
And he did get the sprint coming 2nd.
Me? Last. Not the finish position I was looking to get. But we still got 4th of the day and ended up 2nd on the series points.
Post Race—Impressions and Takeaways
I thoroughly enjoyed the “comeback” and these new racing formats.
The degree of talent and tactics is just insane at this level this season.
With that comes the margin of error being close to 0.
Making a small mistake might cost you everything in that race.
The top level has to be competitive to make it interesting for racers and viewers. I accept that. Just bummed out it happened to me this time. 😀
Thanks, everyone cheering me on and for excellent racing everyone.
Good to be back.
What’s Next—Round 4 Points Elimination Reverse
Mens Date: November 18th
Womens Date: November 25th
Did you enjoy the race and the report?
What did you think of the new format? There’s a lot to unravel. 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, Endurance.biz, and Bicycling. Chris is co-host of The Virtual Velo Podcast, too!