Tour of Watopia Live: Videos

Tour of Watopia Live // Stage 1: Watopia Flat Route

Fast and fierce racing led to a nail-biting finish in Stage One of the women’s Tour of Watopia.

  • Team Heino makes the break in a coordinated attack
  • Olivia Baril (Turbo) climbs the GC with sprint points
  • Mary Wilkinson (Turbo) wins a reduced bunch sprint to claim the stage and the overall

It was the first of three stages for the women. Riders from Zwift community teams and professional cycling teams are competing in a points-based classification. Each of the racers earn points for their position at the finish and at designated intermediate sprints or climbs. At the end of the stage, racers are ranked based on how many points they claimed.

There’s also a General Classification (GC), which adds together each rider’s points from all three stages. The woman with the most points across Stages One, Three, and Five (men race Stages Two, Four, and Five) will win the Tour of Watopia.

Full Results

Course: Watopia Flat Route

For their first stage of the Tour of Watopia, the women took on two laps of the Watopia Flat Route. The race totaled 20 kilometers. As you can tell from the name, the loop is mostly flat, but some rolling hills in the back half can give racers a challenge. A short kicker after the intermediate sprint can put some pain into already tired legs.

Stage Highlights

With just 20 kilometers of mostly flat ground to cover, the racers went full gas from the start.

The peloton stayed together for the first few kilometers, as the riders rushed through the underwater tunnels. But coming off the short ramp onto dirt roads, racers began dropping off the back from the relentless pace. So far, 66 riders remained out of 84 starters.

Then came the first sprint for points. Helen McKay (Turbo) was the first to jump, followed by Maiike van der Plas (Race3R), who overtook her. McKay’s teammate Olivia Baril launched from several places back, but it was pro rider Tanja Erath (Canyon//SRAM) who sprinted ahead to take top points.

Suddenly, four red jerseys appeared at the front of the race! Team Heino riders Cecilia Hansen, Louise Houbak, Vicky Nealon, and Vicki Whitelaw were driving hard up a short hill after the sprint. This forced the rest of the group to chase while they were still trying to recover. Several riders had the strength to hang on or jump across. Soon, they had formed an 11-rider breakaway with a 10-second lead.

Another 26 racers grouped up to start the chase behind. Slowly, the gap began ticking down, and the two groups merged with about 8 kilometers to go.

Bell Lap

Ione Johnson (Canyon ZCC) led out the second intermediate sprint, but Baril got to the line first this time. Her teammate Mary Wilkinson and Team Turbo’s Leah Thorvilson were close behind. Thorvilson turned her sprint into an attack with a Feather Lightweight PowerUp, getting a 2-second gap on the field! A handful of others soon caught up with her. It was down to 12 riders with a slim lead as they rocketed toward the finish.

With all four Team Heino riders represented in the break, would they make the first move? Not yet! It was Emma Belforth (Team SZ) who popped her Helmet Aero Boost PowerUp and started a long sprint for the finish. For a few seconds, she floated well ahead of the remaining leaders. But then the others began their sprints and swarmed around her. Wilkinson and Daniela Istrate (Revo) both had Helmet Aero Boosts of their own, and they charged ahead neck-and-neck!

Wilkinson was the first to cross the line, earning top points at the finish and the overall lead in the women’s Tour of Watopia. Hansen was second and Daniela Istrate (Revo) was third, but Baril jumped over both in the General Classification because of her earlier sprint points.

Note: Results are provisional and will be finalized after performance verification takes place.

Individual Points Podium – Stage 1

  1. Mary Wilkinson (Canyon ZCC) – 45 points
  2. Olivia Baril (Turbo) – 41 points
  3. Cecilia Hansen (Heino) – 37 points

General Classification

  1. Mary Wilkinson (Canyon ZCC) – 45 points
  2. Olivia Baril (Turbo) – 41 points
  3. Cecilia Hansen (Heino) – 37 points
  4. Daniela Istrate (Revo) – 35 points
  5. Vicki Whitelaw (Heino) – 27 points
  6. Leah Thorvilson (Turbo) – 27 points
  7. Louise Houbak (Heino) – 25 points
  8. Tanja Erath (Canyon//SRAM) – 25 points
  9. Lou Bates (Race3R) – 23 points
  10. Kristin Falck (Canyon ZCC) – 20 points

Racer Reactions

“It was a tough one,” Wilkinson said after the race. “The field was totally stacked with fast riders. . . . We expected the pack to stay together until the first sprint and then the fireworks to start.”

She said that sprint caught her off-guard because it started so early, but Wilkinson’s late sprint helped carry her into the breakaway.

“I was a bit disappointed we didn't make that stick, but the chasing group was a bit bigger and had some firepower in it from teams not represented at the front,” she said. Canyon ZCC knew that to win, they had to go all-in at the second sprint and make the selection.

Baril said Team Turbo also expected the sprints to be key - not just for positioning, but also for mopping up points.

“The intermediate sprints helped a lot in the overall ranking,” she said. “I knew that if I wanted to position well in GC, I was going to need to sprint everywhere.”

For their part, Team Heino may not have gotten a win from their attack, but they’re still well-positioned overall.

Wilkinson said she’s excited to wear the yellow leader’s jersey next time, and her Canyon ZCC teammate Falck is also in the top 10.

“I think all the teams will now make the decision to work in support of their highest placed riders,” said Wilkinson. “The GC aspect has really changed the dynamic of how teams will have to race compared to the team events and I think that's an interesting way to do it.”

Next Race: Stage 2

Tune in live for the first men’s Tour of Watopia stage on March 12 at noon PDT (7 p.m. BST)!