How does virtual racing work?

COVID-19 may have caused the cancellation or postponement a lot of our races, but Team TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank is still challenging ourselves, staying connected, and racking up plenty of wins to boot! And it's all thanks to new virtual cycling technology.

With social distancing and stay at home restrictions still a factor, E-training and E-racing have taken center stage on the team. We've racked up several wins and have some exciting races to come in the future! Thanks to platforms such as Zwift, RGT, and BKool, race organizers can still host events virtually - and we're motivated for what's to come.

How eRaces work - an overview

The riders set up a bike on a stationary trainer, and either their power meter or smart trainer, along with heart rate monitor, is connected to the Zwift or RGT app. Team TIBCO Silicon-Valley Bank recommends 4iiii as an affordable, accurate, and easy to calibrate power-meter choice. Each platform creates an avatar simulating a real-time workout.

The more power they put out, the faster their avatar goes. The platforms take into account drafting, so the rider at the front of the race must generate more power than those racing behind. On a smart trainer, the platform will control the resistance to simulate hill gradients.

Plenty is going on behind the scenes too. To make the race broadcast more exciting and to see riders' efforts in real life, the riders are also on a Zoom video call with the race organization during the race.

"To help with team tactics, I need to be able to follow the race in a virtual team car," Team TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank sports director Rachel Hedderman said. "During the Tour for All, the directors were on the start line in special vehicles. Zwift has a "fan view" setting, so I'm able to follow the riders and see what is happening in the race."

"Teamwork is just as important virtually as in real life, so the riders need to communicate, and we use an app called Discord for that," Hedderman said. "It's just like race radio. I can speak to the riders, and they can talk with each other."

Past eRace Updates...

Team TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank has been a force to be reckoned with on the e-racing scene! During Zwift's Tour for All international event in May, our riders finished in the top three, four out of the five days. Leah Dixon claimed a third on Tour for All's opening stage and first place on stage 4. Lauren Stephens finished second behind Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio on stage 2, and Sarah Gigante stormed to third on the final day, clinching the overall team GC title for Team TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank.

Tour for All - Final Team GC

1. Team TIBCO Silicon Valley Bank: 391

2. Canyon-Sram: 359

3. CCC-LIV: 314

At the virtual Tour of the Gila, held May 22-24 as part of the Project Echelon series, Team TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank produced more exceptional riding. The team dominated the three-day Zwift race, winning the opening team time trial. Lauren Stephens went on to win stage 2, and Sarah Gigante proved her top form once more by crushing stage 3, just ahead of Stephens. Gigante's ride secured her top step in the overall competition.

Other Tour of the Gila highlights included Kristen Faulkner and Emily Newsom winning the queen of the mountain and sprint jersey, respectively.

Tour of the Gila - Final GC

1. Sarah Gigante

2. Lauren Stephens

3. Kristen Faulkner

Lauren Stephens has definitely found her stride in virtual stage racing. She's also taking part in USA Cycling's Virtual Race League, an ongoing race series held every Wednesday since late April. So far, Stephens has won an incredible three times, and currently leads the GC.

Team TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank's upcoming virtual races:

We have more big virtual races coming up, and both will be available to watch live! First off is the SKODA V-Series Women's Tour on June 17-19. Team TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank is one of 15 professional teams taking part in this three day stage race. The proceeds will go toward Breast Cancer Now and Mind charities. More information on the Women's Tour, and how to watch can be found here. Racing kicks off each day at 1400 EST. Next up is the virtual Joe Martin Stage Race on June 19-21, as part of the Project Echelon series. Joe Martin Stage Race is the third installment of the race series which included Redlands Classic and Tour of the Gila.

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