Denmark’s Bjorn Andreassen and Loes Adegeest of the Netherlands shared their 2023 Zwift UCI Cycling Esports World Championship thoughts!
As the digital confetti fell on the simulated streets of the Zwift Scotland-inspired Glasgow Crit course, the cameras cut to the newly crowned 2023 UCI Cycling Esports World Champions, Denmark’s Bjorn Andreassen and defending champion Loes Adegeest of the Netherlands.
With arms raised and champagne spraying, the 21-year-old bike mechanic from Svendborg celebrated a resounding win. “I was very happy!” he said with humble confidence, “And then the champagne shower came in all over me, and it was just one crazy moment with all the Danish guys and supporters cheering me on and making it possible for me.”
The youthful Danish superstar dipped into his depth of Svendborg Mountain Bike Club race experience to roll off the front from the gun. The scenario played out perfectly for the Danish team. With four racers of the ten into the Race 3 final—a four-lap 12.3 km affair with two racers eliminated per lap—the chase group looked at each other while positioning to contest the sprints that came fast and furious.
“I had a plan from the start, and I laid it all in every race so that I could get to the final,” shares Andreassen. His plan included getting in the break of race one, a 14.2 km scratch race on Zwift’s Scotland Rolling Highlands course. The charging pack rolled through the ill-fated group at the base of the 612 m uphill Breakaway Brae sprint finale.
Andreassen had the power to take it to the line, whereas break companion Ed Lavarack of Great Britain and Victor Campanearts of Belgium was caught out of the top-thirty to advance. Andreassen, the 55th-ranked Zwift racer who campaigns online for P.O. Auto-Ceramic Speed, used his Zwiftcraft to make the top-ten cut in race two, an 8.6 km scratch race on Zwift’s City and the Sgurr route featuring three stiff and pitchy climbs.
The Danish rider soloed off the front of race three, aptly named The Podium, maintaining a stout but steady pace while the pack yo-yo-ed behind, fighting for elimination spots. With close to a 15-second cushion, it was then that Andreassen realized what he had done.
“I don’t think I know it yet,” the World Champion said, “I do begin to smile when I think I am the World Champion now. In the race, it was first with 500 meters to the finish line, and I knew it was home.”
Defending UCI Esports World Champion Loes Adegeest is at home in the rainbow bands. Draped in the Dutch flag as the camera panned to her posting up and punching the sky, the defending champion had these thoughts, “Of course happiness, but also some relief. I think I went into the race as a favorite, and I had the confidence that I’d finish it off, but you still have to do so, don’t make mistakes, have no mechanical problems, etc.”
The 26-year-old pro from Deventer came in on top form, fresh off a World Tour Elite Women’s Race win at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race with her FDJ-Suez team. The 16th-ranked Zwift racer’s path to the race three final of the Esports World Championships could have been more eventful. “There was no turning point,” she asserts, “I was in control the whole event.”
Adegeest took the three-up sprint decisively, with Great Britain’s Zoe Langham taking the silver, followed by Team USA’s Jacqueline Godbe.
“It all became sort of surreal at that point,” notes Godbe, whose husband and fellow racer and physician was standing beside offering encouragement and tech support to the 32-year-old Radiologist from St. Louis, MO.
Despite total and utter exhaustion from the repeated sprint efforts, Godbe recalls the moment when John was screaming in her ear after the final elimination sprint, “YOURE ON THE PODIUM!!! YOU’RE ON THE PODIUM!!!”
Joining Denmark’s Bjorn Andreassen on the men’s podium were Jason Osbourne and 30-year-old Marc Mäding of Germany, with Zach Nehr being the top US finisher in tenth. The 32nd-ranked Mäding races at Zwift’s highest level for Wahoo-Le Col and shares, “It just felt right, if that makes sense. All the work I’ve put in paid off, and I can be proud of that.”
Mäding was the first to launch from the dwindling group chasing the soloing Andreassen and recalled the moment, “When I attacked solo with one lap to go, and I got a gap, I knew my top 3 finish was guaranteed.”
The 2023 UCI Cycling Esports World Championships broke new ground. The never-before-seen three-race format contested on the first virtual courses designed for a World Championship produced the sport’s first repeat winner and a podium for the US.
“I wanted to win the rainbow jersey for the community,” shares Mäding, pointing to the new breed of Zwift esports racers and virtual cyclists as the momentous event’s ultimate victors.
“Time and time again, I am thrilled to be part of a strong, supportive community,” says Godbe.
The 2023 UCI Cycling Esports World Champions, Andreassen and Adegeest, have strong ties to the Zwift racing community. The podium, and the top-ten, are filled with Zwift esports specialists. Have we reached the tipping point in World Class esports?
Our new men’s World Champion, Bjorn Andreassen, has a viewpoint from the sport’s pinnacle and says, “I don’t know yet, but I hope it will open a lot of doors! At least I know it will get me a lot of “Ride Ons” when I’m riding Zwift in my digital Rainbow Jersey.”
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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!