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 has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.