First Zwift Grand Prix Men’s Victors Crowned

The $3,500 Prize Purse Goes to the men of Coalition Alpha

It was a glorious sunset on the dawn of a new era in Zwift cycling esports. The Zwift Grand Prix final on March 3, 2023, culminated six rounds of innovative race formats and historical performances beginning in September. The twelve elite teams invited to the Zwift Grand Prix battled for five coveted finals spots. 


Abus-Le Col, Coalition Alpha, NeXT Esport pb Enshored, Toyota Cryo-RDT, and Wahoo le Col punched their ticket for the men’s main event.

Photo: Zwift

“The reduced peloton size is more fun to race,” notes Abus-Le Col’s Lennert Teugels, and “the smaller blob makes it more a man-to-man fight where you have to count your matches.”


The parsed group of finalists lined up to test 23.7 km (282 m elevation) of The Muckle Yin Scotland course with its five intermediate segments and technical finish. The teams had to allocate their matches wisely under the fan-favorite Points Hunter format with ten chances for ascending points glory and unconventional reverse elimination.

Photo: Zwift

Early Stages

The riders sized each other up in the early km before Wahoo le Cols Timothy Rugg launched the first attack. The predictions of a Rugg signature move would not come true on this day.


“Our entire team is struggling with illness,” explained Rugg, speaking of Marc Mäding, who was third in the World Championship and others on the Wahoo le Col squad. 

Hear it in Marc Mäding’s own words as a guest on a Virtual Velo Podcast episode of “Bridging the Gap Between Athlete and Avatar”

“It’s unfortunate to perform so well in the series only to have one race decide the overall. I knew, just like during the world championships, that I’d never be able to go the distance in this race and had to hope no one was interested in the early points. They were.”

Breakaway Brae Reverse

Rugg animated the race, which was blistering as the group approached the first segment, the reverse Breakaway Brae at 6 km and its one point at the offer.

Photo: Zwift

“We had a plan going in,” notes the 20-year-old Toyota CRYO-RDT rider, and “we had to go for the first sprint point.” When his teammate Brad Gouveris unclipped for the first time of two in the race, Jochems was there to have his back. 


“Because of technical difficulties, I passed my teammate Brad just before the line and took a point. It was the end of my race, but the first step of the team plan was a fact,” Jochems shared.

One point for Jochems and Toyota CRYO-RDT.

Sgurr Summit—North Side

The next segment up for grabs was atop the stiff slopes of the North side of the Sgurr Summit at 10 km.


“We went into the race knowing we would need to race aggressively and offensive,” said one of Zwift’s top climbers, Toyota CRYO-RDTs Martin Maertens.

Photo: Zwift

“I didn’t plan to go explicitly for this segment, but I wanted to follow the move that Wahoo le Col initiated. When the gap opened up to two seconds and I felt the pack behind slowing down for an instant, I knew it was the time to hammer it, go all in, and fully commit. By using the powerups and the terrain to their best, I had the goal to keep the speed as high as possible. I took it like an ITT.”

Two points for Maertens and three total for Toyota CRYO-RDT

The Pivotal Descent

As the remaining group approached the banner, the NeXT Esports pb Enshoured riders took a move out of the World Championships playbook releasing a torrent of anvil powerups and taking the weight on their shoulders.   


“A few of us got outsmarted by the move from Next after the first Sgurr, where they pushed full gas with an anvil just over the top,” admits Teugels.

Photo: Zwift

“It looked like some riders wanted to get rid of the anvil earlier to pick up the aero on top of the Sgurr. However, the right tactic was to launch the anvil just a second before the banner and use both powerups at a good moment. We lost two guys because of that.”


The descent off the back of the Sgurr proved to be a pivotal point in the race. Several riders didn’t make the split, and NeXT kept the pace high with turns at the front. Matthias Deroose, Kjell Power, Hywel Davies, Ben Russell, and others didn’t make the junction to return to terms.

Photo: Zwift

Breakaway Brae Forward

The reduced group approached the third segment, the Breakaway Brae, at 14.8 km. NeXT’s J Bruhn launched early with 16 wkg, but it wasn’t enough. The intending sprinters went to the front led by Wahoo le Col’s Teppo Laurio.


“After the corkscrew, it was time for the decision, take the three points 100% or adjust the odds and continue and hope for the best,” says Teppo, and “I went with the Breakaway Brae since that’s my segment.” 

Listen to Teppo Laurio tell about his days as a Ghetto Funk rapper in this Virtual Velo podcast episode.

Teppo took it going away when Gouveris, who appeared to be pulling and timed it right, unclipped for the second time, squandering the points that could have made the difference for Toyota CRYO-RDT. Three points went to Teppo.

Wahoo le Col-3 Toyota CRYO-RDT-3

When the field hit the corkscrew for the second time with 7.8 km to go, Coalition Alpha made its first mark on the race with an attack by Michal Kaminski. NeXT’s Duffy and Toyota’s Van Den Eeckhaut joined Kaminsky, and with a deft anvil deployment, Teugels came across to make it four.

Sgurr Summit—South Side

Teugels explains: “I saw three riders make a move and used my second anvil to gain momentum on a slight descent. I immediately passed them and kept pushing to ensure they would all be on the limit. I was kinda surprised Vujasin didn’t react, but his move to stay in the group might have been well chosen. Canyon, NeXT, and Toyota all had a guy, so the chase was dead. If it stayed away, everyone in this group would pick up 4 or 5 points so that the remaining 3, 2, and 1 point at the finish would determine who would win it.”

Photo: Zwift

Coalition Alpha’s Lionel Vujasin confirmed Teugel’s reasoning: “When Teugels bridged on the front group using the anvil, I was right in his wheel but let him go because I knew if we were two Coalition at the front, we would have to take the weight of the race on our shoulders. So I let him go, and Spencer and I told Michal not to contest the sprint for 4 points because otherwise, we would have to chase back after to go for points again.”


Duffy had other plans and took the four points atop the South side of the Sguff Summit at 19.1 km. Four points to Duffy.

NeXT-4 points Toyota CRYO-RDT-3 Wahoo le Col-3

Clyde Kicker

“Generally, the Zwift Grand Prix’s whole format was tricky!” says Coalition Alpha’s Michal Kaminski. “You couldn’t make one strategy—it had to be dynamic. During the final race, I had one task—ride for 4th intermediate, but when I attacked and saw that I didn’t ride alone, I decided to work hard and make a big gap. When we started the Sgurr climb, we had about a 25-sec gap, and I decided to miss the 4th intermediate because the main group hadn’t any chance to catch us, so I couldn’t lose. After the summit, I used the momentum to make a small gap. After the downhill, everyone rode in solo, making the situation really good for me because in an easy way, I could make five points for Coalition Alpha.”


Free to fly, Kaminski attacked the downhill and went all in for the next segment, the Clyde Kicker. Behind him, the mental chess game was playing out.

Photo: Zwift

“Duffy took the first 4 points on Sgurr, Van Den Eeckhaut dropped in the downhill and would pick up the four at the finish if he held on, and I was near Kaminski,” reveals Teugels. “I let him take the five points, knowing there were five more at the finish.” Five points for Kaminski.

Coalition Alpha-5 NeXT-4 Toyato CRYO-RDT-3 Wahoo le Co-3

The Finals Finale

When Coalition Alpha’s Spencer Seggebruch attacked immediately after the Clyde Kicker, it forced Jasper Paridaens of Abus le Col to chase. “I jumped in the wheel straightaway,” says Vujasin, “so he led me out, and when the other guys sprinted, I was fresh and saved my aero for a little later than them.”

Photo: Zwift

Teugels was first over the finish taking max points, and Van Den Eeckhaut held on for second and took four points.


“I think it’s here where Vujasins quick thinking did the job,” shares Teugels. “He knew all he had to do was win the bunch sprint, and he is very experienced in choosing his moment. He realized it was better with Kaminski picking up the four or five points, and that way, he didn’t have to beat me anymore without losing points.”

Photo: Zwift

Vujasin came across in 3rd, followed by Paridaens and NeXT’s James Barnes—three points for Vujasin, two for Paridanes, and one for Barnes. Vujasin took the points he needed to give Coalition Alpha the victory and etch their name in esports history as the inaugural Zwift Grand Prix Champions.

Photo: Zwift
Photo: Zwift

Get to know Lennert Teugels in this interview and Lionel Vujasin in this Virtual Velo Podcast episode.

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