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USA Cycling announced the athletes who will be representing the United States at the 2022 UCI esports world cycling championships.
“Zwift worlds” are set for February 26th, 2022, and both the men and the women’s fields will race on identical courses — over equal distances — and for equal prize money.
The race will be staged over 2.5 laps of Zwift’s New York Knickerbocker, taking on a total distance of 54.9km long, with 944m of elevation gain.
“When the course was first announced for the 2022 UCI eSports World’s, I was immediately intrigued,” said VeloNews columnist Zach Nehr, who qualified for worlds. “Last year finished atop a 70-second climb, which is a bit too punchy for me, but this year finishes atop the NYC KOM, which takes about three minutes. A different type of rider is going to win this year, and Team USA certainly have some race favorites.”
Among the nine men and ten women are a handful of veterans, as well as several new racers who will be racing at the UCI championship event.
Jadon Jaeger and Maeghan Easler earned their spots by winning the American qualifier race on December 11 that USAC held on the RGT platform.
Other athletes qualified through the Pan American continental championships including winners Shayna Powless and Nehr. Joining them through this qualification route were Jacqueline Godbe and Kristen Kulchinsky. Liz Van Houweling received an invitation through her top-3 Zwift Power world ranking. Brian Duffy Jr raced to second place at the Pan American qualifier and is ranked fourth in Zwift Power.
“It’s an honor to be named to Team USA for the UCI Zwift Worlds next year. To be honest, I never saw this coming. I was late to the Zwift party and only joined the platform in March of 2020. A little over a year later I’m representing NeXT eSport p/b Enshored in the Zwift Premier League, and a few months later I won the Continental Qualifier for Zwift Worlds,” said Nehr. “After helping out Team USA last year as an assistant director sportif for the Zwift worlds, I had an inside look at what goes on during such a special event. It’s surreal to think that I will be on the start line of the UCI eSport World Championships next year, wearing the virtual colors of Team USA.”
Other athletes were granted positions on Team USA based on performance and current Zwift Power rankings.
Many of the riders are already esports racing teammates — four men on NeXT, and four women on Saris-NoPinz riders — which should help.
“Competing for your country is one of the greatest honors, and I’m excited to give everything that I have for Team USA. We have a strong and deep team, and I think we’ll be able to use tactics and strategies to our advantage to hopefully take home the first-ever eCycling world championship for America,” said Duffy.
The top-finishing Americans in the 2021 women’s race were Godbe (Saris-NoPinz) in fourth and Kristen Kulchinsky (Twenty 24) in ninth, Powless (Twenty 24) finished 21st, and Courtney Nelson (Saris/ NoPinz) was 12th.
On the men’s side, Ryan Larson (Saris/ NoPinz) finished in ninth place and Jager (Adapt Cycling) came across the line in 39th.
2022 Team USA elite men
Kevin Bouchard-Hall (Wadhams, NY; Velocio)
J Bruhn (Baton Rouge, LA, NeXT p/b Enshored)
Brian Duffy Jr (King of Prussia, PA; NeXT p/b Enshored)
Brian Hodges (Shoreline, WA; Wahoo Le Col)
Jadon Jaeger (Wauwatosa, WI; Adapt Cycling)
Ryan Larson (Galloway, NJ; Saris/ NoPinz)
Zach Nehr (Milwaukee, WI.; NeXT p/b Enshored)
Spencer Seggebruch (Saint Louis, MO, CANYON)
Patrick Walle (Nashville, TN; NeXT p/b Enshored)
2022 Team USA elite women
Katheryn Curi (Los Altos, CA; Saris/ NoPinz)
Maeghan Easler (Des Moines, IA; Saris/ NoPinz)
Jacqueline Godbe (Chicago, IL; Saris/ NoPinz)
Rebecca Larson (Norman, OK; Dutch Diesel Cycling)
Liz Van Houweling (Des Moines, IA; Saris/ NoPinz)
Kristen Kulchinsky (Dix Hills, NY; Twenty 24)
Arielle Martin-Verhaaren (Williamsburg, VA; AEO)
Courtney Nelson (San Jose, CA; Saris/ NoPinz)
Shayna Powless (Roseville, CA; Twenty 24)
Stefanie Sydlik (Pittsburgh, PA; Canyon Wmn)