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Virtual reconnaissance: Zwift releases 2018 UCI Road World Championships Innsbruck-Tirol course

Digital preview could be useful to far-flung and underfunded riders, along with fans wanting to play at hunting the Rainbow Jersey

Popular training-simulator and cycle gaming environment Zwift has launched the UCI Road World Championships Innsbruck-Tirol course to its platform. A month ahead of the racing in Austria it promises to give riders and fans the opportunity to practise before the Championships which take place from 22nd to 30th September.

Zwift has constructed a 24km circuit based on the 'Olympic Lap' that is set to be face multiple times in both the men's and women's elite races.

Within this circuit, the course has factored in the 7.9km, 5.9% climb that will act as a focal point during the actual championships.

This climb will be tackled seven and three times by the men and women respectively and is expected to act as a catalyst for attacking riding.

With Zwift now building this realistic replica, teams will be able to ride the climb before having arrived in Austria, something appreciated by Australian technical director Brad McGee.

'We’ve been really excited about this new course since Zwift unveiled plans earlier this year,' said McGee.

'Typically the first time our riders would get to see the course would be when they arrive to race. Having the ability to train on the course in Zwift is going be a huge benefit this year not only from a tactical perspective, but it will serve as a huge confidence booster for the riders too.'

Enjoying massively varied levels of support from their respective national federations, the ability to preview the course will be of even greater use to riders, like those of Australia, who won’t get a chance to recce the route ahead of the event.

With the complete men’s race spanning 259 kilometres, and ascending 4,670 vertical metres, most of this comes courtesy of the tough final circuit.

Tackled seven times during the men’s road race and three times during women’s road race, the 32km ‘Olympic Lap’, features an near-8km climb at 5.9% followed by a 2.8km climb of 11.5%, after which the riders descend before a final 2km dash to the line.

Including landmarks and topography lifted from this section of the course - such as the Kufstein Castle and Innsbruck Olympic ski jump - more crucially the Zwift version will allow riders to replicate the gradients involved via a connected smart trainer.

A tie-in with the Organising Committee of the 2018 UCI Road World Championships, the virtual Zwift course will remain online in perpetuity following the real-world event.