AusCycling has announced the 13 riders who will represent Australia at the 2022 UCI Cycling Esports World Championships on February 26th.
The lineup includes three of the last four Zwift Academy winners, as well as three top 10 finishers from the 2020 World Championships.
Contested by national teams, the UCI Cycling Esports World Championships are the world’s premier online cycling races.
The World Championships were first held in 2020 using Zwift, a game-like app that allows riders to control their avatar in a virtual world by pedaling their real-world bike, which they attach to a stationary trainer.
In 2020, Sarah Gigante won silver for Australia. The championships were not held in 2021.
This year, the men’s and women’s races will take place on Zwift’s New York “Knickerbocker” course over 54.9 virtual kilometers. The challenging course is filled with hilly and steep terrain, including three climbs of the New York KOM/QOM (1.4km at 6.1%).
The 2022 World Championship course features the futuristic glass streets of Zwifts New York. (Source: Zwift)
Australia men’s team features Jay Vine and Alex Bogna, who secured professional road bike contracts by winning the Zwift Academy – a global competition that uses Zwift to identify high-performing athletes – in 2020 and 2021 respectively.
Zwift Academy Finalist Sam Hill will make his Australian Representatives debut, riding alongside his brother Ben Hill, who finished fifth at the 2020 World Championships and is in excellent form riding in the Premier Division of the Zwift Racing League (ZRL), the highest tier of cycling outside of the World Championships.
Freddy Ovet also competed in the 2020 championships where he finished eighth. Last year, Ovett achieved top results in the ZRL and earned AusCycling’s Esports Cyclist of the Year award.
Canberras Torben Partridge-Madsen und New South Wales’ Aiden Sinclair complete the team, both appearing at a senior world championship for the first time.
“I’m thrilled to be donning green and gold again and representing Australia. Unfortunately my race was marred by a coach’s absence at a crucial time last time, but this year I’m hoping to set things right. The course looks very grueling as the final climb happens 3 times throughout the race which I think will narrow the field. I hope for a tough and fast race.”
“It’s nice to be able to compete in my first-ever UCI World Championship and to contribute to the rapidly evolving sporting discipline. My training has been hampered a bit over the past month since contracting COVID but as the key point of the race is the three minute climb at the end I will be optimizing my training to ensure I have some power in my legs while doing some are tired. I am very excited to start the second ever UCI Cycling Esports World Championships and cannot thank AusCycling enough for their commitment to the team.”
Not Bradbury, who has been racing professionally with Canyon-SRAM since winning Zwift Academy in 2020, will compete in her first UCI Cycling Esports World Championships.
The 19-year-old Victorian will be joined by three riders as he competes at this level for the second time.
Bre Rebbe surprised the competition – and herself – when she finished 10th at the 2020 World Championships. She will be racing from her new home in Andorra with husband Jay Vine.
Justin Barrow and Vicky Whitelaw also return to the Australia squad following the 2020 competition. Whitelaw capped off a stellar season with the all-conquering ZRL team, Team Heino, on their quest to earn the 2021 AusCycling Esports Cyclist of the Year award.
The team is rounded out by eSports debutants Katie Banerjee, a Masters road bike world champion from Sydney; and Queensland Rachel Wales, who recently competed in the 2021 Zwift Academy finals in Mallorca.
“I am really looking forward to representing Australia again. We have a really strong team and I think we can get another great result with any of our riders. I really surprised myself with the top 10 result last time. I worked really hard to pull this off and the course fit me in a full minute effort. It’s a little different for me this year. The course has some longer climbs so is more suited to a more pure climber but I’ve been working on my strengths and hopes are high.”
“I’m honored to represent Australia again; There is something very special about donning this green and gold jersey and representing our amazing country. I think the New York Knickerbocker is a great World Championship course as many different types of riders could potentially win. I like that there are some nice steep climbs but of course I would prefer the climbs to be a little longer! Australia have a great team, both women’s and men’s, and I’m looking forward to racing with the team.”
Donna Rae-Szalinski (Teammanagerin):
“We are looking forward to the event and are bringing a very strong team to the table. We have five finalists from recent Zwift Academy competitions, and another good part of the team is consistently competing well in ZRL. We are excited, bring Worlds!”
Australian Cycling Team – UCI Cycling Esports World Championships 2022
- Alex Bogna (QLD, AERO Racing Team)
- Ben Hill (ACT, AERO-Rennteam)
- Sam Hill (NSW, AERO Racing Team)
- Freddy Ovett (VIC, L39ION from Los Angeles)
- Torben Partridge-Madsen (ACT, AERO Racing Team)
- Aiden Sinclair (NSW, Canyon Esports)
- Jay Vine (ACT, Alpecin-Fenix)
- Katie Banerjee (NSW, AERO Racing Team)
- Justine Barrow (VIC, AERO Racing Team)
- Neve Bradbury (VIC, Canyon-SRAM)
- Bre Vine (ACT, AERO Racing Team)
- Rachael Wales (QLD, AERO-Rennteam)
- Vicki Whitelaw (ACT, Team Heino)