Team USA Animates Race With Three Riders in Top 10 at Esports World Championships

February 26, 2022

Team USA consistently attacked in both the Women’s and Men’s races putting on a strong showing at the 2022 UCI Esports World Championships on Zwift.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. /ENDURANCE SPORTSWIRE/ – Today was the second edition of the UCI Esports World Championships on Zwift. The team raced on the 54.9km New York Knickerbocker course doing 2 laps plus another short lap up the final climb.

Women’s Race

89 women took to the virtual starting line first with ten U.S. riders gathered on Discord with team directors Jennifer Real and Matt Gardiner. The team had really great positioning early on in the race. As the riders approached the first climb, race favorite Kristen Kulchinsky (Dix Hills, N.Y.; Twenty 24) and the rest of Team USA pushed the pace up the 1.4km climb with only 32 riders left in the front group. Kulchinsky would be first at the top of the climb, with USA Cycling riders Katheryn Curi (Los Altos, Calif.; IRACELIKEAGIRL), Jacqueline Godbe (Chicago, Ill.; Saris/ NoPinz), Liz Van Houweling (Des Moines, Iowa; Saris/ NoPinz), Courtney Nelson (San Jose, Calif.; Saris/ NoPinz), Shayna Powless (Roseville, Calif.; Twenty 24), and Stefanie Sydlik (Pittsburgh, Penn.; Canyon Wmn) all still in the lead group.

At 19km to go, the lead group had over a minute gap on the chase. Team USA looked dominate as they were the majority of the peloton along with Team GB having a large presence as well. The group stayed wide with no one really wanting to put in the effort. As the group went up the climb for the second time, the team gave it everything. The lead group went down from 32 to 24 now with six U.S. riders remaining.

That’s when Team USA was just getting started. Kulchinsky made an attack and made the rest of the peloton work with defending World Champion Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (RSA), Emma Belforth (SWE), and Zoe Langham (GBR). As soon as the group came back together Curi made another attack animating the race. She got out in front, then the group was back together. Next it was Godbewith another attack. Then we saw Sydlik completely digging deep. This attack stuck and she created a gap up to 10-seconds.

The group had some hesitation about going after her and nobody from the peloton was willing to make it. The rest of the USA stayed at the back of the group while Sydlik kept digging and holding on. As the group started to catch her, Curi was ready to make another move.

Then it was Curi who went all in. She absolutely emptied the tank with a massive effort getting the gap up to 18-seconds. The break stuck and every time the peloton was thought to be catching up, she continued to keep the break with 3km to go. Then all eyes were on Moolman-Pasio (RSA) making a move, and several others went with her.

In the end, Loes Adegeest (NED) would take the win with Cecilia Hansen (SWE) in second, and Zoe Langham (GBR) in third. USA Cycling put three riders in the top-10 with standout rides coming from Van Houweling, Nelson, and Godbe.

Women’s Results

  1. Loes Adegeest (NED)
  2. Cecilia Hansen (SWE)
  3. Zoe Langham (GBR)
  4. Liz Van Houweling (USA)
  5. Courtney Nelson(USA)
  6. Jacqueline Godbe(USA)
  7. Stefanie Sydlik (USA)
  8. Kristen Kulchinsky(USA)
  9. 31. Katheryn Curi(USA)
  10. Shayna Powless(USA)
  11. Maeghan Easler (USA)
  12. Arielle Martin-Verhaaren (USA)
  13. Rebecca Larson(USA)

Men’s Race

Then it was time for the men to take the starting line. With 92 starters, the U.S. had nine riders ready to race with Team Directors Matt Gardiner and Greg Grosicki on the Discord channel.

Brian Hodges (Shoreline, Wash.; Wahoo Le Col) attacked on the first climb with the rest of the team all in great positions. That made the group split up a bit, but that first climb did not have as much of an impact like it did in the women’s race.

Team USA was still in the game with several attacks made by other counties including, the Netherlands and Japan. The second time up the climb was really when the race got started. Jay Vine (AUS), Zwift Academy winner, attacked up the hill splitting the peloton with all the U.S. riders staying in the lead group.

Then, Spencer Seggebruch (Saint Louis, Mo., CANYON) made an attack at 32km to go with five other riders going with him. Those riders were Martin Maertens (GER), Henrik Fjellheim (NOR), Leandre Bouchard (CAN), Jo Pirotte (GER) and Rainer Kepplinger (AUT). The gap grew to 19 seconds as they stayed at the front for almost the rest of the race. The peloton started to bring down the gap at 4km to go, but they were still holding strong.

As they crossed through the starting line, that just meant that there was only one major climb left and then the race would be over. As they went up the climb, Kepplinger stayed in the lead holding off the group, and it was 30 seconds left going all in for Team USA.

With the finish line in sight, it looked like Kepplinger, but then it was Jason Osborne (GER) that used a power up passing Kepplinger, and it looked like he was going to take the win. Then from the bottom of the screen came Vine to cross the line in first winning the World Championships.

Team USA fought hard putting two riders in the Top-20. All in all, it was another solid Esports World Championships for Team USA!

Men’s Results

  1. Jay Vine (AUS)
  2. Jason Osborne (GER)
  3. Rainer Kepplinger (AUT)
  4. Ryan Larson(USA)
  5. J Bruhn(USA)
  6. Brian Duffy Jr(USA)
  7. Kevin Bouchard-Hall(USA)
  8. Zach Nehr(USA)
  9. Patrick Walle(USA)
  10. Spencer Seggebruch(USA)
  11. Jadon Jaeger(USA)
  12. Brian Hodges(USA)

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USA Cycling is the national governing body for the sport of cycling and oversees the disciplines of road, track, mountain bike, cyclocross, and BMX. USA Cycling’s mission is to champion accessibility, participation, and excellence in the sport of cycling to make more Americans healthier, happier, and better on two wheels while achieving sustained international racing success. USA Cycling supports cyclists at all levels, from those just beginning in the sport and participating in fun rides to international caliber racers. The organization identifies, develops, and selects cyclists to represent the United States in international competition through the support of kids’ and interscholastic programs, amateur bike racing and grassroots development programs, and the provision of critical infrastructure to run organized racing. USA Cycling has a membership of 100,000, annually sanctions over 2,500 events, and is a proud member of the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) and United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC).