Race Recon: Watopia Seaside Sprint

Race Recon: Watopia Seaside Sprint

ON June 26, 2020 by Zwift

Watopia’s “Seaside Sprint” is an event-only circuit perfect for races and spirited group rides. For casual rides it’s a scenic loop, taking riders onto the cobbles of the Italian Villas, through the Volcano, and over the twisty, rolling Esses before the final sprint to the finish line. For races, the varied terrain means things always stay interesting as the pace constantly shifts!

Remember these top tips for Zwift racing (most apply outside as well!)

  1. Warm up because the start is a hard effort
  2. Use the draft to conserve energy whenever possible
  3. Attack every punchy climb to avoid being dropped
  4. Know the route so you can pace yourself, move to the front before important climbs, etc
  5. Save a useful powerup for the finish

What follows is a look at key sections of this route complete with racing tips from Isle of Man-based A racer Matt Looker of team R3R. Follow his tips to achieve your best results on the Seaside Sprint!

Length: 3.9 miles // 6.3km
Elevation Gain: 130′ // 40m

#1: The Start (Lead-In)

“I know people always say to make sure you’ve warmed up before the start of a race,” Matt says. “But for a course like this – you need to!”

The lead-in from downtown Watopia’s start pier to the beginning of your first Seaside Sprint lap is 1.9 miles//3km long. It begins with a short, steady ramp which takes you into The Esses.

Matt says, “As with all races, they start at a high pace, so there’s plenty of places to be distanced if your legs aren’t ready to go!” Get a solid warmup in before your race begins, and pay close attention during the first few minutes so you can maintain a good position in the pack.

#2: The Esses

0.8 miles // 1.3km, rolling road

In this twisty section of rollers it is important to stay alert and modulate your power to maintain idea pack position. Matt explains, “Going this way, there are dips before some of the rises. The first isn’t too much trouble and you can carry quite a bit of speed over it, however you’ll need to put a bit more power through the pedals for the second one leading to the bridge. (We’ll cover this part in the “finish” section).”

#3: The Sprint

200 meters, flat

The sprint section runs the length of the wooden JWB bridge. If your event includes a sprint competition, you will want to ramp up your power on the ramp descending to the bridge, then hold that power to the finish arch. Trying to be first across the line? Be ready to push it up the climb just before the ramp down to the bridge! (More on this under #5 below.)

After the sprint, things should settle down a bit as you head through the Italian Villas and toward the Volcano. “Time to take a breather,” Matt says. “You’ll likely have kept the gas since the start banner, so if you can, rest up in the pack during this flat section as you’re about to hit the next effort. Keep in mind that you’ll want to start working through the pack before you take the right-hander onto the ramp into the Volcano.”

#4: Volcano Ramp

800 meters, ~5% with some flat sections

Expect the watts to ramp up as the road turns up and into the Volcano! Matt offers his advice for this important section:

“For the first ramp, I’d recommend kicking from the bottom until you’ve entered the volcano. After that, it generally lulls on the flat stretch before you take the two bends ramping up and past the Volcano lap banner. Keep the pace up until you start exiting the volcano as you can lose touch by easing off too early when the pack starts rolling through.”

Once you’ve exited the Volcano, you should have another chance to catch your breath. “This is another spot where everyone wants to take a quick rest before the efforts start again,” explains Matt. “Try to make your way towards the front of the pack as you rise into the esses. People like to attack around here and try to split it, so don’t get caught out!”

#5: Final Kilometer

The final minute of your race will be especially challenging due to how the road lays out. With around 700 meters to go you will be descending a short left-hander which then turns right and upward. This quick climb places you atop the straight ramp down to the finishing sprint.

“I have found that the final section, as a whole, is one of the trickiest to get right,” Matt confesses. “Everyone knows the final ramp with about 700m to go is vital. Make sure to use the small downhill to give you speed through the pack and attack the hill.”

As with any race finish, your best approach here depends on knowing your strengths and weaknesses and trying to predict the moves your competitors will make. Matt explains three different approaches he has seen and tried:

  • Hit it with everything you’ve got and hope you can break away over the top and carry your speed to the end. This is really for you watt monsters out there who can hold a substantial 1-minute effort, as you need to put a significant amount of time into the pack (and hope that either they don’t respond or the pack size is small enough that it doesn’t eat you up straight away). If you have the gap once you’re on the bridge, you’ve got 200m to go… head down to the line!
  • Attack the ramp with about 80% effort. Here you’re hoping someone else is going full gas and splits the pack (as above) and you can suck their wheel in the attack, draft them on the way down, then use your speed to slingshot to the finish.
  • Save your powder and stay mid-pack going up the hill. With this, you’re looking to just hide until the bridge and max out the draft affect. If it all stays together and you’ve got a great explosive attack, then you can leave the rest in your dust once you hit the bridge.

Which approach is best in your situation? That’s for you to decide! And of course, choosing the right strategy never guarantees a win. Matt says, “With each of these scenarios, there are variables that can cause a perfect lead to come crashing down right at the end. I’ve found you need to play this very tactically, analyzing who’s in your race and predicting what will happen. With a pinch of luck, it may all go your way!”

Good luck!


We hope you’ve enjoyed this Race Recon. The goal of this series is to explain the features that make each Zwift route uniquely challenging for racers. Looking for more? See our complete list of Zwift Race Recons.