With bike racing put on hold across the world due to the ongoing COVID19 crisis, Zwift have stepped up to provide some much wanted competition between the NRS riders. The cancellation and postponement of a number of key events mean the series won’t be back until at least September which left a lot of riders in an unmotivated state leading into the start of an Australian winter.
While virtual racing is new and unconventional to a lot of riders, we are looking forward to the challenge and a lot of the boys have already thrown themselves into the streets of Watopia. The team obviously did not plan for a virtual NRS series so we figured we would take a look at the positives and negatives of the team’s roster leading into the series.
Positive- Daniel Siwek
Zwift racing is all about watts per kilogram. While Siweks numbers might not jump out at you straight away (the boys like to remind him he struggles to do 300 for 20 minutes), once you realise he weighs in at a measly 54kg, you start to realise why he is ranked in the top 20 riders in the country on Zwift. Siwek has been racking up the ks in the lead up to the virtual competition and even completed a virtual Everesting in an attempt to make sure he had the best gear for the series.
We always have known that Siwek has the w/kg to contend with the best in the NRS but more often than not he struggles with the aggressive nature of bunch racing. Lucky for him, there are no crosswinds on Zwift and positioning yourself into the final climb becomes a lot easier when you don’t need to worry about crashes or using your elbows to punch tight gaps. Look for Siwek to spring a surprise result on the uphill finishes littered throughout the six stage series.
Negative- Lachie Ambrose
While Lachie might be one of the youngest director sportifs in the series, this unfortunately will not help the team as his technical abilities are severely lacking when it comes to Zwift racing. To his credit, he did sign up a few weeks ago and even tried his hand at racing. Unfortunately, 26th place in B grade did not justify his claims that he was “learning the ropes,” before muttering something about having to get his scales calibrated. Further questioning of power-ups and how he used them was met with a blank expression that did not leave the team with a whole lot of confidence in his abilities to run a successful Zwift team. He was last seen trying to work out what the Zwift equivalent of telling the team to ride at the front is.
It might be better for Lachie to sit this one out and watch from the sidelines as self-claimed Zwift expert Matt de Vroet steps up to educate the boys on how to launch an expertly timed ghost attack (which he professes strong theoretical knowledge on).
Positive- Rylan Dowdell
Rylan Dowdell has racked over 6000kms on Zwift spending a total of 169 hours on the app and getting to level 26. It is safe to say he knows the ins and outs of the game and he’ll look to pass on some knowledge to those newer to the virtual platform. Rylan was racing on Zwift before it was “cool” and is excited to test himself out against a stronger field. He has already been egging on the boys to get some virtual course recon done which suggests he might be keener for Zwift racing than actual bike racing!
Jury’s out- Big boys club
It is no secret we have some large riders on the team. Iven Bennett, Jason Thomason, Will Golding, Curtis Dowdell and Matt Hutchinson form quite an intimidating line up in real life with each measuring comfortably over 6’2”. Unfortunately, the same intimidation is not felt in the virtual world with 54kg Siwek probably able to bump Bennett off the wheel without issues.
While these boys possess some big pure watts, Zwift is not always kind to those who pack a little more weight. Just ask the Aussie TP men’s team how they felt getting spat from the Cycling Australia Chop race last Thursday as the watts required between the 75-80kg range are huge. These boys should be right on the flat but every time the road tilts upwards, expect the pain faces to be out as they try and match Dans 6.5w/kg.
Tristan Saunders and David Randall have shown themselves to be competitive in NRS bunch kicks, which suggests they might go well in the sprints that Zwift races often come down to. Unfortunately, these guys are typical sprinters and excel in doing as little as possible until the final few kilometres. That does not always work on Zwift with the races shorter and free-wheeling not an option, it becomes harder to sit in and conserve energy. No doubt they’ll give it a good crack however, and might be out to prove that not all sprinters are pack snivelers.
Positive- Lachie Marshall
This series could not have come at a better time for Marshall. Out training a few weeks ago, Lachie was doored and broke a finger. This meant a bit of time on the trainer and what better time to commit to a few Zwift hours than just as a virtual race series was about to begin! No more envy for Lachie on Saturdays as he gets to join the boys virtually and not miss out on any of the fun.
While the team are treating the Zwift racing series with a bit of fun, it will no doubt be a good hit out and provides us with some much needed competition during the quieter months. A big shout-out to the NRS and Zwift for making this happen and giving the riders an opportunity to test ourselves before the real racing kicks off in September.
You can keep up to date with the series through both the National Road Series channels as well as the Zwift Australia page. There will be a livestream each week with commentary for you all to join in the fun.
Keep up with the team’s social pages as we keep you updated with both the virtual racing and what our riders have been up to during isolation.