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Article published 20/02/2023

On Saturday 18 February, 173 riders representing the best esport cycling talent in the world, took to their bikes for the third annual 2023 UCI Cycling Esports World Championships.

For the first time, Glasgow played host to the IRL (in real life) final at The Engine Works as part of 2023 UCI Cycling Esports World Championships. The event bridged the gap between the real-world physical efforts of the riders and the virtual race on Zwift – the global online training and racing platform for cyclists.

Visual of a virtual reality bike race
Visual from the 2023 UCI Cycling Esports World Championships (credit: SWPix)

EventScotland, Glasgow Life, 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships delivered the event in partnership with the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) and Zwift. It welcomed eight riders who were cheered on by a live studio audience as they battled for the coveted UCI world champion rainbow jersey. Athletes in Glasgow included Great Britain cycling team’s Lucy Harris, Lizi Brooke, Natalie Stevenson, Andy Nichols, Jimmy Kershaw and Joseph Rees, Irish cycling’s Richard Barry and French cycling’s Sophie Giovane.

The race took place on the all-new Scotland map, the first time a virtual destination has been created specifically for a cycling esports competition. The battle royale for the rainbow jersey in both the men’s and women’s competition consisted of three consecutive races: the punch, the climb and the podium. As the races went on, riders were eliminated until there was just last three survivors standing on the podium. Norway’s Bjorn Andreassen took victory in the men’s race. The Netherlands’ Loes Adegeest successfully defended her rainbow jersey in the women’s race.

For those competing in the final, the highest finisher of the night was Lizi Brooke in 11th place, followed by Lucy Harris (18th), Natalie Stevenson (41st) and Sophie Givoane (59th). In the men’s race, Andy Nichols can in 22nd, followed by Richard Barry (44th), Joseph Rees (61st) and Jimmy Kershaw (64th).

In addition to the racing, 11-time UCI world champion and six-time Olympic gold medalist Sir Chris Hoy was there on the night taking part in a Q&A session with the studio audience. He provided insight on the night’s racing action, what it is like riding the Scotland map and the upcoming 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships taking place in Glasgow and across Scotland this August. He also spoke with Manon Lloyd, who was in reporting live from Glasgow for GNC Racing.

Man being interviewed in front of a press board
Sir Chris Hoy being interviewed at the 2023 UCI Cycling Esports World Championships (credit: SWPix)

Energy in the room was also kept high with host Alan Anderson who kept the live studio audience briefed with live race commentary. There were also athlete interviews, music by a DJ from Funkwagen and merchandise giveaways from the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships and the official drinks partner Electric Spirit Co. And nobody went hungry with street style food from Inside Out Catering. Glasgow graffiti writer, Taio, also created a piece that encapsulated the spirit of the night along with aspects of the newly created Zwift Scotland world map.

Visit the Zwift website to read the full race report and see the overall results.

The 2023 IRL final was the perfect kick off for an exciting year of cycling in Glasgow and across Scotland this year as we build towards the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships in August. The energy and atmosphere in the room on Saturday night, as athletes raced the Zwift Scotland World map was truly electric.

The rise of hybrid events over the last few years has continued to grow rapidly in terms of engagement and popularity, allowing event organisers and audiences to engage in a flexible way. We were delighted to support and deliver the first Esports cycling event take place in Glasgow, working in collaboration with a range of partners. Having events such as these further strengthens Scotland’s position as a world-leading events destination and reinforces Scotland’s place as the perfect stage for events.

Robbie Clyde, Head of EventScotland

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