Great Britain cyclist Andy Tennant was involved in a first UCI cycling E-sports championship – a sport and industry that is growing rapidly.
The competitive E-sports event, saw Ashleigh-Moolman-Pasio (South Africa) and Jason Osbourne (Germany) cross the line in first place in the respective women’s and men’s elite races.
Tennant notes the quick rate at which virtual gaming is getting more recognition but, with pro cyclists provided with a turbo trainer to ensure a level playing field for the event, he also claims it is a very different discipline to the “real” thing.
He said: “This shows the progression of cycling into E-Sports, E-Sports is a massive industry and is growing rapidly, in terms of football and NBA. It is very different as you physically have to do something as you have to cycle to compete with Zwift.
“You are provided with a turbo trainer and we all have to use the same brand to try to reduce the affects, because the technology is not there to make it perfectly accurate still, there are still discrepancies.”
The specialised equipment that is available requires siginifcant funding, as Tennant admits it is an odd experience competing for a championship in the garden instead of being on the road.
“All turbo trainers have a power and there can be a big variation between different turbo trainers, it is like go karts where one is faster than the other but everything else you have to provide yourself,” said the Shropshire-based rider.
“So, it is not as accessible as saying going to play Fifa where you buy a Playstation and the computer game. You are looking at an outlay of thousands of pounds to compete on Zwift.
“I have done the national championships before and that was shroud by cheating going on, they have done everything they can to avoid that this time. But it is going to be odd doing a world championship in my shed down the bottom of the garden.”
Tennant was eliminated early on, with the highest finishing Brit Max Stedman coming home in 28th place, Tom Piddcock found himself in 33rd as only two British athletes ranked in the top 50.
The race consisted of successful British cyclists Ed Clancy and rising star Pidcock who featured alongside 76 other participants. Tennant is a leading professional domestic road rider and spent over a decade with the all-conquering GB Olympic track team.
Those who finished the race covered 50.035km on a difficult “Watopia” circuit, that included different climbs at a high intensity.
Tennant said: “I got dropped quite early on, which is no surprise to myself as I was a late selection and didn’t train at all for it. It is a very different set of skills to the road and the algorithm does not favour tall or heavy people, I forgot how hard to you had to start and misjudging that cost me.
“I am training for the start of racing in February and March, to train for this I would have to do things differently. I am looking at the bigger picture in the final season and I always wanted to try my hardest, but I was never going to win.”