Online training and racing platform Zwift has partnered with cycling challenge specialist Haute Route for a virtual three-day event, Haute Route Utopia, which will pit riders against the most testing roads the virtual world has to offer.
As with those who enter Haute Route’s real-life challenges, which span three or seven days, participants will receive a rider’s handbook and complete training programme and, for this event, can unlock an exclusive, Le Col-designed Haute Route kit.
During the event itself, which takes place from 3-5 April with full details and entry available here, there will be a general classification so entrants can gauge their progression throughout the three days.
Zwift CEO and co-founder Eric Min said: “I’m thrilled that our community will be able to experience the challenge of an Haute Route event on our platform.
“I’ve looked at the route, and it’s certainly going to be a huge challenge. However, I always like to test myself, and I certainly look forward to taking part.”
While the challenge will be available across multiple time zones, it must be completed back-to-back over the three days it is held, with Zwift saying there will be no catch-up days.
Stage 1, covering 48km on the Three Sisters route, includes 890 metres of climbing over the Watopia KOM, Epic KOM and Volcano climbs, delivering over 890m of climbing.
The Tour of Fire and Ice features on Stage 2, and while at 25km it is the shortest of the three, it includes the 12.6km climb of the Alpe du Zwift with its average gradient of 8.2 per cent.
On the final day, Stage 3 tackles the Pretzel, with 1,333 metres of climbing over its 72km.
Everyone completing all three stages will be able to unlock a Haute Route finisher’s kit from Le Col on Zwift, and will also be entered into a draw to win either entry to a three-day Haute Route challenge, or a Le Col Haute Route cycling kit.
Haute Route Director, Julie Royer, said: “Haute Route has developed a world renowned reputation for delivering the most challenging events in the most exotic locations around the world.
“The virtual world opens up entirely new possibilities never seen before. Haute Route Watopia will allow more people from around the world to experience the thrill of an Haute Route event.”
Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.