Zwift Grand Prix Men’s Round Six Winning Race Report, by Wahoo Le Col’s Marc Mäding!
by Marc Mäding
Zwift Grand Prix Men’s Round Six—
"Last Team Standing" Race Format Overview
The never-before-seen Last Team Standing race format may be Zwift’s most diabolical yet. Compared to previous Zwift Grand Prix races, round six is only one race, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less brutal for the racers.
The 60 racers (12 teams of 5 racers) will exit the pens for three laps of the Watopia Hilly Route before a final slugfest to the top of the Hilly KOM. After six banner selections where the top-placed rider for each team ensures their team’s passage through to the next arch, racers from the remaining teams battle for all the points on offer on the slopes of the Hilly KOM. Check out the graphic for banner breakdowns and final points.
The mathematical jockeying and strategic interplay over the course’s 29.4km will culminate in a max of four teams competing for the opportunity to be named “Last Team Standing.”
The honor on this day went to Wahoo Le Col, thanks to brilliant tactics and the strong riding of teammate Marc Mading. Marc outlasted the onslaught on the top of the Hilly KOM after withstanding punches and counter-punches from the esports elite.
Here's how it went down, as seen through the eyes of Zwift Grand Prix Round Six victor Marc Mading!
Race Prep—Zwift Grand Prix Men’s Round Six
The race is in the late evening at 20:15 for me. When I race in the evening, I like to do a fasted Z2 ride in the morning for various reasons. First of all, my legs just work better with some fatigue. I also feel like it opens my energy stores, and when I have a high-carb meal after, I have a lot of energy for the race later. So I ended up riding for two hours with robopacer C. Constance that day.
Course Recons for Grand Prix races are very important as I need to find out how the course is riding at 100% trainer difficulty instead of 60%, which is my usual setting. For this course, I had to find out if I could ride the Watopia KOM on the big ring.
With the strength of our team, we were confident that we could put at least one rider in the top 9 on the first elimination arch up the Hilly KOM, so we had no plan to attack during the first round. We planned to sit in and follow moves if needed.
On the Second trip up the KOM, we would all go all-out to have as many riders as possible in the top 9 to eliminate other teams. We planned to split the work on the next elimination arcs, but we knew we had to be flexible with tactics as the race changes with every eliminated team and fewer riders on the road.
The Winning Move
Pre-Race—Zwift Grand Prix Men’s Round Six
Before scratch or points races, I like to do the INEOS warm-up that everyone can access in the Zwift workout folders. It’s 20 minutes long and hits all energy systems with an increasing cadence.
Like before every race, we joined the discord voice chat and did a quick recap on the strategy and what we might want to try after teams got eliminated.
It was my fifth Grand Prix race, and I was finally calm while waiting in the pen, with no heart rate elevation of 20 bpm because of nervousness. I could focus on the task ahead.
I was super confident before this race. I know my fitness is on the rise, and despite a 30-hour training week the week prior, two ZRL races on Tuesday, and two TTTs the day before, my legs were ready to go.
It doesn’t matter to me who signed up for the race, especially since the first KOM arch can change everything. Every rider there is strong, and I need to give my best.
The Final Kick For Victory
The Race—Zwift Grand Prix Men’s Round Six
As expected, the first elimination arch changed the race. My Wahoo Le Col team put three riders inside the top nine spots, and five of the 12 teams got eliminated here. But I guess no one expected that NeXt, the series leader before this race, would be one of the teams.
What really changed and determined the rest of the race was the second elimination arch and what happened directly after. I knew Teppo (Laurio) and Chris (Dawson) would go all in for this sprint, so I just surfed wheels making sure I didn’t get dropped.
After the arc, I kept on the gas and caught the front just after the right turn up the little ramp into the Esses. I didn’t attack hard. I just kept my speed pushing 6.5-7 Wk/g and got a gap with Seggebruch (Coalition) and Paridaens (ABUS) on my wheel.
We got away, and at this point, three of the remaining six teams had a rider in the breakaway with a decreasing number of safe spots at each arch, putting the other three teams under pressure. I honestly don’t know what went on behind me after that.
I focused on keeping the break going. I felt we were going too slow at the front, so I attacked again on the ramp into the Esses. Paridaens could hang on, and we made it together to the final climb up the Watopia Hilly KOM.
First Elimination Banner
Breakaway with chasers fighting for the remaining spots
The Finish—Zwift Grand Prix Men’s Round Six
There were many split groups on the road, with only three teams left after the second-to-last elimination arch. We started the climb at 7-8 W/kg, with the chasers closing in, pushing red numbers. I was confident of beating them in a sprint even if they caught us. Despite the pressure of the first KOM elimination arch, I was very comfortable throughout the race.
Eventually, they caught us right after the hairpin. I increased my power, and Paridaens reacted. He started his final sprint and deployed his Burrito powerup perfectly after he passed me, but I had a Feather left and a big kick. I was able to overtake him again and take the win.
Results—Zwift Grand Prix Men’s Round Six
Wahoo Le Col put all their riders inside the top 10 to score points, with me taking the win. Strong performance by ABUS to put three riders inside the top 5, with Paridaens and Devalckeneer making the podium.
A super close finish between ABUS and WLC sees ABUS taking the win by only 2 points.
This last race of the regular season mixed up the podium spots. Because NeXt had to leave the race early, they only got two league points which cost them the overall win. It was up to WLC and ABUS then to decide who would take the overall victory in the regular season, which saw ABUS coming out on top.
With the top 5 teams making it to the finals in March, this race brought no change. Toyota and Coalition round up the top 5.
Post Race—Impressions and Takeaways
I watched the stream after the race and have two very different impressions. First of all, it was super fun to do the race. After the first arch, everything can happen, races within a race, various tactics, and outcomes.
Of course, it is frustrating when your team has to leave after only 15 min of racing, but that’s part of the challenge. Now about watching the race, which shows the issues Zwift faces with coverage in general.
The first was missing moves like the breakaway when Paridaens, Seggebruch, and I got away. Second and more importantly, bringing a feeling of how significant the gaps are and where the riders are.
Maybe new camera angles could help with that. Also, race formats like this need to automatize results and give more information faster to the racers and viewers.
I’m sure a computer can know who was top 9 at the arc within a second and then remove the teams who weren’t. Although it wasn’t too bad for us racers for this particular race, we got the information in time.
I hope they keep working on the technical side. The season’s race formats were fun but could use more automatization. Further, I hope they start promoting elite racing more.
I know that most Zwifters aren’t racing, so the target audience might be small, but a single article on Zwiftinsider a day prior is not enough. Maybe one of the non-racers finds interest and would like to race after watching a GP race? Racing is fun! But don’t overdo it.
I’m taking a big confidence boost from this race for all upcoming races like World Champs, TTT World Champs, and the Grand Prix final. My fitness is heading in the right direction, and my Zwift “gaming skills” are good.
Bring it on!
What’s Next—The Finals
Both Men’s and Women’s finals are held on Friday 3rd March. Points will reset for the finals, and only the finals will decide the finishing place order. The final race format is Points Hunter (further details will be released soon).
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!