The Inside View of the Zwift Grand Prix Men’s Round Four—Through the Racer’s Eyes

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Zach Nehr

Zwift Grand Prix Men’s Round Four Race Report of the Points Elimination Reverse by NeXT pb Enshored’s Zach Nehr!

Zwift Grand Prix Men’s Round Four tower sprint points breakdown
Author Zach Nehr riding bike on road

Zwift Grand Prix Men’s Round Four—Points Elimination Reverse Overview

The Zwift Grand Prix Round 4 features the innovative and sure-to-be exciting new format Points Elimination Reverse. The five teams and their 60 racers will set out on the 35km Chasing the Sun course, where five intermediate prime points and the finish awaits.

Zwift Grand Prix Men’s Round Four points elimination reverse routes
Photo: Zwift

Each intermediate awards different points and places deep, but there’s a twist. If a rider is savvy and strong enough to earn points for their team, it eliminates them from the race—Reverse Elimination.

Zwift Grand Prix Men’s Round Four points scoring
Photo: Zwift

The Points Elimination Reverse will put the teams to the test of tactics, timing, and toughness!                

Pre-Race—Zwift Grand Prix Men’s Round Four

My preparation coming into Round 4 of the Zwift Grand Prix was far from ideal. I had gotten sick the week before and struggled with lingering symptoms and sub-par feelings. I hadn’t felt my best for a couple of weeks, and life stress was piling up too.

next pb enshored's indoor cycling race roster

Given the unique format of the Round, I was nervous about being able to contribute to my team because I felt that you needed to be at your very best to even have a chance at scoring points. But I tried to put that aside as I stuck to my pre-race prep, which included careful meal timing ahead of the weigh-in two hours before the start of the race.

Race Prep—Zwift Grand Prix Men’s Round Four

Here’s what I did in the few hours before the  Zwift Grand Prix Men’s Round Four race:

  • Wake up around 8 am
  • Pre-race ride* ~45 minutes before the weigh-in window opens (2 hours before the start)
  • Weigh-in at 11:10 am
  • Eat breakfast and hydrate
  • Prepare race hydration and nutrition (One bottle of Skratch Labs sports hydration drink mix)
  • Begin pre-race warm-up 45 minutes before Race 1
  • Tech check 15 minutes before the race (Confirm the connection of smart trainer, HR monitor, power meter, dual recording device, Zoom call, etc.)
  • Race 1 at 1:10 pm

 

*I skipped the pre-race ride this round because I ran out of time in the morning

With the weigh-in done, I chowed on a carb-heavy meal that included three pieces of toast, a pumpkin muffin, and some leftover Halloween candy. 45 minutes before the start, I hopped on the trainer for my usual pre-race warm-up. My heart rate was abnormally high, as it had been since I started feeling ill. So I skipped some of the high-intensity warm-up efforts and focused on keeping my heart rate down in the final 15 minutes before the start.

Zwift Grand Prix Men’s Round Four racing action

The Race—Zwift Grand Prix Men’s Round Four

Given the unique scoring format, our team—NeXT pb Enshored—decided to skip the first two primes and focus on the second half of the race, which included three primes and the Temple KOM. But that didn’t mean the start was easy.

 

We flew off the line, and attacks went before we even started the official course. I averaged nearly 6w/kg for the first few kilometers, and that was just sucking wheels in the bunch. The race never truly calmed down—we averaged 30 mph for the entire race—and I started following breakaway attempts after the second prime. Nothing stuck, and we began the Temple KOM with the majority of the peloton intact.

 

Having raced up this climb many times before, I knew the exact effort that would be required to climb the Temple KOM in the front group. The first section of the climb is about two and a half minutes at 6.5w/kg. Then, there’s a flat section over the bridge where you can get 20 seconds of rest. And then there’s the final kicker, which requires 7-8w/kg for just over a minute.

All in all, you needed to average ~6.5w/kg for four and a half minutes to stay in the front group.

I wasn’t even thinking about attacking when my teammate, Brian Duffy Jr., sprinted to fourth place on the KOM and scored our team’s first points of the day. With our other teammates dropped, and Duffy eliminated, that left just James Barnes and I in the front group with one prime and the finish to go. With just one point on the board, the pressure was on.

view of finish of climb on Zwift

3km before the final prime, attacks started flying, and I tried to follow. Small groups split and reformed as my heart rate approached 180bpm, and we were still 1.5km from the prime. A few hundred meters later, I launched early…very early.

It’s no secret anymore that I like 1km attacks. While I don’t have the best 15-second power in the world, my one-minute power is my strong suit. But having done these attacks so many times before, I know how much they hurt.

I caught and passed the riders up the road and had a 3-second lead on the peloton with 300 meters to go. The only problem was that I had already been sprinting for 30 seconds! Just imagine doing a 30-second sprint to the finish line and then looking up only to realize that you still have 20 seconds to go. PAINFUL.

 

My heart rate hit 194 bpm for the first time in months (maybe even years), but I crossed the line to win the prime and net NeXT pb Enshored a massive 5pts. 3km later, Barnes cleaned up the field sprint with a 1200+w launch to complete the come-from-behind, life on the line, in the clutch, race victory for NeXT pb Enshored.

Zwift Grand Prix Men’s Round Four Zach Nehr wins tower sprint

Quick power breakdown of Round 4 of the Zwift Grand Prix:

326w (Normalized Power: 376w) for 41 minutes

Temple KOM: 452w (6.5w/kg) for 4 min

Final 3km: 468w (6.7w/kg) for 3:08

Attack to win the final prime: 670w (9.5w/kg) for 52s

Zwift Grand Prix Men’s Round Four sprint finish results

Results—Zwift Grand Prix Men’s Round Four

Race team results

Post Race—Impressions and Takeaways

Before the round kicked off, I was very skeptical of the Points Elimination Reverse format. I thought it was too complicated, would be hard to follow for the audience, and that multiple teams would end up with zero points. But I was wrong.

 

Round 4 of the Zwift Grand Prix was super exciting, and the fight for the podium came all the way down to the final sprint. In fact, our team jumped from 10th place to 1st in the last two primes.

 

In the end, NeXT pb Enshored once again played to our strengths. We don’t rely on a single rider to score all the points. Rather, we have an incredibly strong all-around squad that can get the most out of each other week in and week out.

 

I was very disappointed in my Round 3 performance for NeXT pb Enshored, being the lowest contributor on the team that week. But my teammates never stopped believing in me, and I rode that confidence to an incredible result in Round 4 by helping us take the top spot. We never give up on each other, and we have so many weapons at our disposal, no matter the format.

 

In hindsight, I actually loved the Points Elimination Reverse format as it is. It could play out very differently on a new course, but I liked how points were more weighted toward the end. That made for really exciting racing where teams (like ours) could leapfrog the field with a few crucial sprints.

What’s Next—

Round 5 Team Elimination Omnium

Men’s Race: December 2nd

Women’s Race: December 9th

Up next is a new iteration of the Team Elimination Omnium. There are three races in total, with points, primes, and eliminations scattered throughout each round. It could all come down to the final 12 riders on the Innsbruck Conti hill climb, a course that we saw for the first time in the recent UCI Esport World Championships Qualifiers.

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.

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