Dec. 1, 2023, Long Beach, CA -- Round 4 of the 2023/2024 Zwift Grand Prix continued with a thrilling women’s Scratch Race on Suki’s Playground. Mimicking another round of the Zwift Racing League, the Scratch Race had points available for every rider at the finish.
Exactly like the Men’s Round 3 Scratch Race in London, Suki’s Playground offered points from 80th to 1st. Here’s how the scoring looked:
After a super impressive performance in Round 3, Lou Bates and Coalition Alpha were looking to extend their lead atop the Zwift Grand Prix Series leaderboard. On tap in Round 4 were two laps of Suki’s Playground for a total of 36.8km with 300 meters of climbing. There were four points on the course where the riders would have a 33% chance of getting a Draft Boost, Feather, or Aero Boost.
Between the rolling climbs, fast descents, and downhill finish, there were plenty of tactical choices to be made – would riders save their power-ups for the final sprint? Or would they attack on the climbs, attempting to break away from the peloton?
It didn’t take long for Åsa Fast-Berglund (Team Swedish Zwifters) to start pushing the pace on the first long and draggy climb of the day.
Less than a quarter of the way through the race, around 15 riders had been dropped as the peloton sped towards the next section of Suki’s Playground. For the next 10km, the best women’s Zwifters in the world put on a clinic in drafting and saving energy.
The live broadcast put it into perspective, as nearly every rider in the peloton was saving precious energy on the fast roads of Makuri Islands.
Kathrin Fuhrer (Virginia’s Blue Ridge Twenty24) put in the first big attack of the race, dropping the Feather powerup with 20km to go. Fuhrer’s attack firmly split the field at the end of Lap 1, leaving just half the field left in contention.
Virginia’s Blue Ridge Twenty24 confirmed the message that they weren’t waiting for the final sprint when Kristen Kulchinsky launched off the front with 16.5km to go. The American earned a five-second gap before Coalition Alpha took up the chase.
Kulchinsky kept pushing, and with 13km to go, her gap was 17 seconds and growing. As the road began climbing with 12km to go, Kulchinsky’s lead started to fade as Coalition Alpha and Wahoo Le Col pushed the pace in the peloton.
With 10.6km to go, Kulchinsky was caught, and there were only 34 riders left in the peloton. After the long and lightning-fast descent, Gabriela Guerra (Saris | Nopinz) was the next rider to attack with 5.8km to go.
The Brazilian was closed down almost immediately, but that didn’t stop her from trying again with 4km to go. However, the peloton seemed set on a sprint, and so the lead group came into the final kilometer with very few gaps. With 900m to go, Bates (Coalition Alpha) surprised the sprinters with an all-out attack, going clear into the final descent.
Just like she did in Round 3, Bates held her attack all the way to the finish, earning maximum points for Coalition Alpha with 1st place. Mika Söderström (Movistar eTeam) won the field sprint for 2nd, while Lizzi Brooke (Wahoo Le Col) rounded out the podium in 3rd.
Bates’ finish helped Coalition Alpha make it two in a row by winning Round 4 of the 2023/2024 Zwift Grand Prix. The team points were incredibly close at the top of the leaderboard, with Coalition Alpha winning (305 pts) ahead of Wahoo Le Col (297 pts) and Hexagone (294 pts).
Coalition Alpha extended their lead atop the Zwift Grand Prix – Series leaderboard, and they now have a 13-point lead over Hexagone in second. With three rounds to go, here is what the women’s Series leaderboard looks like.
The 2023/2024 Zwift Grand Prix returns next week with Round 5 – Men’s Points Race on The Muckle Yin. In yet another round mimicking the Zwift Racing League, the Round 5 – Men’s Points Race will include five intermediate sprints and points at the finish line. FTS and FAL points are available for the Top 10 at each intermediate sprint.
On December 14th, the women’s 2023/2024 Zwift Grand Prix continues with one of the longest Team Time Trials (TTT) in Zwift Grand Prix history at 36.3km on Triple Flat Loops. All 16 teams will start with five riders, with their time being taken from their third riders across the line.