Saturday February 26th, 2022 will see the second edition of the UCI Cycling Esports World Championships being held. 180 riders from across the globe will compete in a grueling course set within the Knickerbocker Circuit in Zwift's New York map.
Competitors will be racing over two and a half laps of the Knickerbocker route, with a total distance of 54.9km. Every rider will race the same route distance and profile with ramps up to 17 per cent and a total of 944m of vertical ascent.
Now resident in the UK, Bike Perfect and Cyclingnews technical editor, Aaron Borrill, has been selected to represent his home country of South Africa in this, the biggest cycling event in esports history. The event will be shown live on various channels across the world.
An obsession born from necessity
A keen competitive multi-discipline rider of many years – as the medal haul that adorns the wall of his indoor bike set-up attests to, Borrill's obsession with Zwift began after serious injury kept him away from conventional riding as he explains.
"Back in 2017, I was involved in a massive, high-speed crash where I broke my arm and severely dislocated my elbow, completely tearing the ligament sheath, which displaced both my radius and ulna behind the rear section of my humerus bone. As a dedicated, obsessive person, I had no other option but to sign up for Zwift.
"I was back on the bike 24 hours later and racked up over 2,200km in 41 days. The benefits were quickly apparent, and I finished my first race back in the top ten of the 75km Elgin MTB Race in Cape Town in a pro-laden field. I kept using Zwift on and off, but things only really picked up again when my good friend Neill Ungerer convinced me to join Toyota CRYO RDT and race the Thursday WTRL TTTs.
"It was a brutal introduction to the savage nature of Zwift racing, but I loved it and got addicted to the pain and turning myself inside out with my teammates every week. We were promoted to the Premier Division last year and finished a respectable 13th last season but got relegated due to a technicality, a new rule capping the Premier Division to 15 teams and not 19/20 as before."
Aaron Borrill's pain cave
Borrill's pain Cave is shared with his wife, Jenna, who is on a similar set-up and rides for Zwift community team CRYO-GEN. The room used to be an office which has now been converted into a full-on bike room.
A collection of number boards line the walls and are from just some of the races Borrill has ridden. These include the Absa Cape Epic and three-day MTB stage races such as Wines2Whales, Gravel and Grape and Berg and Bush. "They're a reminder of all the tough times I’ve got through on the bike and set a pretty authoritative scene when streaming or zooming in on ZRL Premier Division races."
Borrill will be riding a Cannondale SuperSix Evo Disc for the Worlds, he explains why. "I’ve always enjoyed Cannondale products – the geometry works with my physiology and is one of five Cannondales I currently own. The Ultegra Di2 - electronic shifting is more reliable for Zwift and will ensure swift accurate shifts on NYC’s Knickerbocker course with TD set at 100 percent – as per the race rules."
As for the rest of his set-up, "I usually use an Elite Direto XR, but now I'm riding the World Championship-issued Wahoo Kickr V5. This is bolted to a Saris MP1 Nfinity Platform, Ant+ hardwired to my MacBook Pro with HDMI out to my Samsung 42LED TV."
How to watch the 2022 UCI Cycling Esports World Championships
The three hours of live coverage will start from 6pm UTC on Feb 26th. The women's elite race begins at 6.15pm UTC, while the elite men in which Borrill will be racing is at 7.45pm UTC.
You can watch the event live in the following ways
In Europe it will be broadcast on Eurosport, SBS in Australia, JSports in Japan and globally on GCN and Zwift YouTube.
"Getting selected to represent South Africa for the 2022 UCI Cycling eSports World Championships is my proudest accomplishment", Borrill tells us. While his goal is "To finish as high up in the field as possible, assist my teammates – namely James Barnes – to a podium spot and to enjoy myself."
While we may have contributors from all over the globe here at Bike Perfect, our national alligences will be an irrelavence come Saturday as we all unite in supporting our teammate. "Go Aaron!"