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Fast and Furious Racing Concludes Series 3 of Zwift’s Pro Tri Series

With real life racing still scarce, the latest Zwift Pro Tri Series has allowed some of the world’s top pro athletes to go head-to-head over four weeks of intense virtual racing. The fourth and final round of the latest series (Series 3) concluded today with wins for Lucy Charles-Barclay in the women’s race and Antony Costes in the men’s. Each week there have been 15 men and 15 women racing from a pool of 20 hand-picked pros that included the likes of Charles-Barclay, Jonny Brownlee, Meredith Kessler, and Matt Hanson. Thanks to their consistency over the four weeks of racing, Kessler has been crowned the overall champion in the women’s series with French triathlete Costes taking the overall honors in the men’s series.

Unlike the previous two series that only involved bike racing, this latest series (held every Wednesday) involved a high-octane bike/run/bike format that saw racers kicking off with a non-drafting hill climb time trial, followed by a treadmill run, before finishing with a criterium style points race. 

For each of these three races, athletes earned points based on their finishing place (20 points for first through to six points for 15th) with the athlete earning the highest total points being crowned champion. Zwift broadcast each week’s race live as part of a two-hour show with commentary from Matt Lieto and Sarah True. Viewers can see every athlete’s watts per kilogram as they ride with some of the men hitting seven watts/kilogram and the women between five to six watts/kilogram.

According to Zwift spokesperson Kristin Butcher, the addition of running in this third series was welcomed by the racers, even though athletes reported it being much tougher than “just” biking. “Lucy Charles-Barclay pushed so hard during the run in the third week that she was physically sick and had to withdraw,” Butcher said. 

And as with racing IRL, there was no shortage of drama across the past four weeks. Athletes Emma Pallant-Browne and James Cunnama were both racing from their respective homes in South Africa where there have been rolling power outages that led them both to renting generators to ensure constant power during each race. 

Training partners and good friends Heather Jackson and Paula Findlay have been racing side-by-side on trainers and treadmills in Jackson’s garage in Tucson, Arizona, and have twice blown a circuit breaker when running at top speed. 

In a bid to keep racing as fair as possible (especially given prize money is on the line; Zwift declined to reveal how much) Zwift requires all athletes to record a video of themselves weighing in on the day of the race and the video must show proof of the date. They also have to provide two sources of power data, with the primary source of power data being paired with cadence and heart-rate sensors, as well as a video of them riding a test course pre-race. 

Kessler, who finished in the top three of the women’s races every week, said: “These races have been so brutal, but have given us all a welcome chance to really race. Zwift riding and racing is thrilling, efficient, controlled, motivating, hard, engaging, effective, and fun all at the same time!”

She is currently doing 100% of her bike training indoors and you can try out one of her favorite workouts, featured here as this week’s One-Hour Workout. Stay tuned for the latest episode of our Fitter and Faster podcast, which is an indoor cycling special that drops this Friday, Feb. 26, and features interviews with Kessler and endurance coaches Joe Friel and Jim Rutberg, authors of Ride Inside.  

Results across the four weeks of racing are shown below and Zwift will announce overall series champions soon. It’s interesting to note that, while there are many names recognizable from both short- and long-course racing, there are also some lesser known athletes here, giving credence to the rise of the “e-sports” specialist. 

Week 1, Feb. 3 Men’s Race Women’s Race
1st Jackson Laundry Lucy Charles-Barclay
2nd Seppe Odeyn Meredith Kessler
3rd Jonny Brownlee Melanie Maurer
Week 2, Feb. 10 Men’s Race Women’s Race
1st Antony Costes Lucy Charles-Barclay
2nd Kenneth Vandendriessche Meredith Kessler
3rd Aaron Royle Beth Potter
Week 3, Feb. 17 Men’s Race Women’s Race
1st Antony Costes Meredith Kessler
2nd Kenneth Vandendriessche Beth Potter
3rd Aaron Royle Melanie Maurer
Week 4, Feb. 24 Men’s Race Women’s Race
1st Antony Costes Lucy Charles-Barclay
2nd Seppe Odeyn Meredith Kessler
3rd Aaron Royle Emma Pallant-Browne