Because steering was enabled for round one of the Zwift Grand Prix -- in violation of the rulebook -- Zwift has taken the decision to annul the results of the race for series standings. Out of respect of the athletes' efforts, all teams will be paid an additional $500 in start money, and the last race of the series will offer double points. The following race reports were written prior to that decision, and while Zwift is confident that steering settings did not influence the outcome of the race, no series points are being awarded following round one.
The Zwift Grand Prix kicked off with two thrilling races around the 2015 UCI Worlds Course in Richmond. 16 men's and women’s teams risked it all in the Points Hunter format, which rewarded (and punished) daring, all-out attacks.
There were eight intermediate sprints in total, plus finish line points available for the Top 8 riders. But the twist was that, with each sprint, any rider who scored was then eliminated from the race. Of the 80 men's and women’s riders who started, only 26 riders would end up scoring points for their respective teams.
Joel Lewis (BL13 p/b Level Velo) was determined to be one of those 26 riders when he took off from Kilometer Zero. The Brit went solo to take the first points of the 2023/2024 Zwift Grand Prix for BL13 p/b Level Velo. The breakaway trend continued for the entire first lap – in fact, each of the first four intermediate sprints was won by a solo rider: first it was Lewis at Monument Avenue, then Johan Norén (Team Swedish Zwifters) at Broad Street, then Rinus Verhelle (ABUS–Synergy) at Libby Hill, and finally Dan Turek (NeXT eSports pb Enshored) atop 23rd Street.
At the end of Lap 1, less than half the peloton was left at the front of the race. But that didn’t stop the attacks from flying before the next sprint. The peloton was strung out in a very long line at the Monument Ave sprint, where four riders scored points, led by Jasper Paridaens (ABUS–Synergy).
By the midpoint of the race, ABUS–Synergy led NeXT eSports pb Enshored and BL13 p/b Level Velo in the team standings, with just a few sprints remaining. Last year’s Zwift Grand Prix Champions, Coalition Alpha, were yet to score a single point, along with Movistar eTeam, Hexagone, and Beastmode p/b Rose.
At Broad Street, the points went to a messy breakaway that turned into a 500-meter sprint. They were led across the line by Sébastien Havot (Hexagone) and Vidar Mehl (Movistar eTeam).
Brian Duffy Jr (NeXT eSports pb Enshored) and Lionel Vujasin (Coalition Alpha) broke away from the peloton to take the top points at Libby Hill, and suddenly, there was only 3.5km to go. At the final intermediate sprint atop 23rd Street, Andy Nichols gave BL13 p/b Level Velo a huge points haul with first across the line, while Marc Mäding (Beastmode p/b Rose) and Niki Hug (NeXT pb Enshored) followed in second and third.
After 31km of racing, only 900 meters were left when Michał Kamiński (Coalition Alpha) broke away from the lead group, while Zwift legend Lennert Teugels (ABUS–Synergy) gave chase. But the Belgian was overtaken by none other than the UCI eSport World Champion, Bjoern Andreassen (Wahoo Le Col), with just a few hundred meters to go. The rainbow jersey caught Kamiński on the line to take the win and move his team up to 7th in the overall standings.
After eight sprints and 32km of full gas racing, ABUS–Synergy won Round 1 of the 2023/2024 Zwift Grand Prix ahead of NeXT eSports pb Enshored and BL13 p/b Level Velo.
Round 1 of the 2023/2024 Zwift Grand Prix continued with 80 women blasting out of the start pens in Richmond, prepared to race through the same exact course as the men. Just two kilometers into the race, Wahoo Le Col launched a full-team attack that put everyone else on the back foot. But with every rider’s legs being relatively fresh, the peloton was all back together ahead of the first intermediate sprint. In the end, there were three riders who sprinted for the points, and we had to go to the photo finish before it was declared that Emily Ehrlich (Virginia’s Blue Ridge Twenty24) grabbed the points.
L. Harris (Toyota Elite ECycling) launched a brilliant move to win the sprint on Broad Street, and then it was Coalition Alpha who took control of the race on Libby Hill. G. Paul and Lou Bates broke away from the pack, with Paul taking the points and Bates continuing on to 23rd Street. The British rider did just enough to hang on and win four more points for Coalition Alpha, who suddenly had a huge lead in the overall standings.
Just before the end of Lap 1, Katie Hill (Aeonian) put in a huge attack to go solo before the next sprint. She ended up gaining nearly a minute on the peloton before taking the Monument Ave sprint, and there were a few big-name teams yet to score.
A. Roberts (Aeonian) won the next intermediate sprint at Broad Street, which meant that Aeonian moved to the top of the leaderboard with less than 10km to go. Everyone knew what was coming: the brutal combination of Libby Hill, 23rd Street, and the climb up Governor’s Street to the finish. Amongst the hesitation, Maria Holdcroft (NeXT eSports pb Enshored) and K. McCarthy (Rocacorba Collective) broke away just before Libby Hill, just as Vujasin and Duffy Jr had done in the men’s race. Both riders put their respective teams on the scoreboard, and there were only 12 riders left in the peloton as they flew down towards 23rd Street.
A. Verhaaren absolutely smoked the cobblestone climb to earn top points for Aeonian, who were dominating the leaderboard with only the finish line points to come. With 600 meters to go, Kristen Kulchinsky (Virginia’s Blue Ridge Twenty24) went to the front and began to gap the three remaining riders. But Gabriela Guerra (Saris | Nopinz) closed the gap, and the pace slowed with 450 meters to go.
All of a sudden, Sandrine Etienne (Hexagone) came flying by the leaders with her Aero powerup and only the finish line was in sight. Guerra kicked, then Kulchinsky, and then Lizi Brooke (Wahoo Le Col). But it was Brooke who timed her sprint perfectly, kicking around Guerra and Etienne in the final 200 meters to take the win for Wahoo Le Col, who won the finish line sprint in both the men’s and women’s races.
Guerra’s huge finishing effort vaulted Saris | Nopinz to second place overall, while Team Swedish Zwifters rounded out the podium at the end of Round 1.
Round 2 of the 2023/2024 Zwift Grand Prix takes us to the most infamous road in all of Watopia: the Alpe du Zwift. The men’s and women’s Mountain Points Races begin on October 26th, and every rider will compete for points at the finish line. There will be three intermediate sprint locations on the way to the finish line atop the Alpe, which is guaranteed to be one of the toughest races in Zwift history.