Do the American Men have a chance? Yes!
That’s what I told the editor at Cycling Weekly when I was asked to write an Esports Worlds prediction piece. Tap the image below for that, but in the meantime, here’s equal billing for all the incredible esports athletes representing the US.
Are they favorites? Can we call them underdogs? Despite how you see it, the Team USA Men are a gritty bunch, and they’re ready to represent! Here they are!
Brian Duffy, Jr
(King of Prussia, PA; NeXT p/b Enshored) Zwift World Ranking—13
Brian shares one of the secrets to his success, saying, “I race on NeXT eSport p/b Enshored, the top ecycling team in the world. Conversing, training, and racing with some of the top athletes in the world has served as a major advantage and has helped me develop as a rider.”
The 34-year-old former professional triathlete turned elite Zwift cyclist from the Philadelphia suburbs works in corporate finance. Brian finished 20th overall in 2022 and is happy to be back, sharing, “Being a part of Team USA last year was an incredible experience—one of the most memorable that I’ve had as an athlete.”
Brian is not short on memorable esports moments, including a blistering 14 wkg winning attack atop one of Zwift’s most punishing climbs in the Continental Qualifiers to make Team USA.
While he has what it takes to win, it’s more than that for Duffy. “I can’t wait to be a part of Team USA once more and to continue along this journey in the growth of ecycling. I’ve been encouraged by the testing of new formats, the heightening of data and equipment standards, and by the quality of athletes emerging.
It’s a unique experience, and having a UCI-governed championship is a reflection of the growth and legitimacy of this niche sport.
I’ll be sure to do everything that I can to represent my country well on February 18.”
Also representing Team USA and the NeXT p/b Enshored team is Zach Nehr.
(Milwaukee, WI; NeXT p/b Enshored)
Zwift World Ranking—30
Zach is a 26-year-old freelance cycling writer and coach who finished 28th overall in 2022. Nehr has all the physical and mental attributes to win and points to his team as an asset.
“Being a part of NeXT p/b Enshored is my biggest strength heading into Worlds. Our team is dialed in with every aspect of Zwift racing. We’ve been at the top of the Zwift Grand Prix for three seasons running, and we’re bringing several riders to Worlds across many different countries. My teammates and I always bounce tactical ideas around ahead of the biggest races, and Worlds is no different.”
Nehr is confident in the team’s podium prospects.
“I believe that Team USA can put a rider on the podium. And as things always go in cycling, if we have a little bit of luck, Team USA could bring home the rainbow jersey. With the new format for Worlds, anything could happen. But we have such a strong and well-rounded squad that we should be prepared for anything.”
Also prepared to do what it takes for Team USA’s success is another NeXT p/b Enshored rider, J Bruhn.
(Atlanta, GA; NeXT p/b Enshored)
Zwift World Ranking—24
J is a 34-year-old project manager from Atlanta who was the second American finisher in 2022, placing 17th overall. J shocked the esports world when he rose from the Zwift community ranks to punch his ticket for Team USA in 2022 and joined NeXT p/b Enshored. Since then, he has solidified his position among the World’s elite, holding the Zwift #1 worldwide ranking on several occasions.
“My dream is to win!” says J, “But realistically, success will be to make it to the final round of the elimination-style racing. If I can make it to race three, I am guaranteed a top 10, which would be a huge result for me, and really anything can happen in the final race!”
If J finds himself in the final with a few Team USA mates, he likes their chances.
“I think, depending on how the races play out, a few of us have a realistic shot of landing on the podium. But when you have so many riders that are this good competing in a race like this, not only do you have to have good power and timing, but you will need a little bit of luck as well.
The biggest thing that has changed for our team is our thought process. Last year was about how we set ourselves up to do as well as possible. This year the mindset is, how do we set ourselves up to win?”
Director Sportif—Matt Gardiner
Team USAs Director Sportif knows what it will take to set up his team. The CPA from Des Moines, IA races for Saris-NoPinz and breaks it down like this.
“Does the US have a shot? Without a doubt, “Yes.” The format for worlds plays well for our squads. The US team for men and women has one of the largest rosters in their races, and each is composed of 100% pure Zwift specialists. The size of our rosters and the Zwiftcraft of the riders give us a massive advantage.
The roster size matters most for The Punch (race #1) and The Climb (race #2). A significant component of success in The Punch will be luck, with the rest of the result coming down to game craft. All the athletes who made it to Worlds have the power to be there. Getting the timing and positioning right to find the top 30 and advance to The Climb will take a little luck and finesse.
Since our rosters are so big, that gives us the potential to have multiple riders line up in The Climb, where we will have the ability to race tactically against riders who may be without teams. That race is an unknown so far, and it could vary drastically based on who makes it to the start line. We’ll see once we get there! As for The Podium (race #3), these ten athletes will be incredibly fatigued, having two grueling battles to get to the start.
I believe our rosters have some of the most durable indoor specialists in the world who shine after repeated efforts. The Harder The Punch and The Climb, the better The Podium will work out for us. Bring it on!”
Rounding out the roster of elite Men for Team USA are:
(Galloway, NJ; Air Traffic Controler; Saris-NoPinz)
Zwift World Ranking—250
Ryan was Team USA’s top finisher in 2020, when he was 9th overall—and 2022, when he finished 13th overall.
“It means everything. There is no better feeling than putting on the Stars and Stripes and representing the country you love.”
“We have a really great team this year with a broad spectrum of talent. I think the format of Worlds this year is really going to show who can adapt to a situation and know where to apply their strengths. I think team USA is one of the best at that.”
(Saint Louis, MO; Data Analyst; Restart Racing)
Zwift World Ranking—146
“Racing for Team USA means exhibiting myself as a role model to the greater community. I am also showcasing my pride, executing USA team tactics, or otherwise demonstrating my talents from which others can learn from or draw personal stories to.”
(Byron, NY; Jazz drummer/Audio engineer; TURBO)
Zwift World Ranking—166
“The USA has a stacked squad of extremely aggressive riders, and I will fight to the end to ensure the last rider has the greatest chance of success. The team is everything.”
(MI; Retail Procurement; TURBO)
Zwift World Ranking—191
“Team USA has an incredible team, and I am certainly not the strongest on the team, and I plan to do my part to help the team get on the podium, whether that is me or someone else. I’m a huge underdog, but I have good race instincts and as much grit as anyone on the start line.”
(Millis, MA; CPA-controller; Saris-NoPinz)
Zwift World Ranking—76
Matt’s past stems from a traditional three-sport athlete who dabbled in college baseball, went straight into the world of public accounting, and then found triathlon and went full-bore into that world.
Money Matt began Zwifting in 2014 and has a 5-digit ZP ID to show for it, and perspective, sharing, “With all the hours I spend on Zwift, it means a lot to me that I have a chance to race for the USA on what is one of the highest level races we have in the e-racing world. It will comprise those at the top level who have passed through a gauntlet of validity checks. It should be one of the fairest fights out there. I am looking forward to going to battle with my team.”
(Harrisonburg, VA; Police Academy Training; Wahoo Le Col)
Zwift World Ranking—162
Timothy has a background in pro cycling and is “now giving pro cycling up to give back to my community, the same place I trained to become a pro cyclist.” He is currently attending the CSCJTA Police Academy to become an officer.
He’s looking forward to doing the most he can to support the solid squad because “It’s kind of a curtain call to end my “career” as a cyclist.”
(New Canaan, CT; Equity Financial Analyst; Saris-NoPinz)
Zwift World Ranking—154
Good luck to all the guys!
Any last-minute words of encouragement?
Comment below. I’m sure they’d love to know.
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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!