Guernsey Velo Club will today stage the first of five races in their virtually rearranged Easter Festival, termed the ‘Zwiftival’, and they even hope to contest an inter-insular in coming weeks.
This follows a positive race outing last weekend where Sam Culverwell edged into the top-10 of a highly competitive 3R Watopia Flat Route Race.
He had headed a 25-strong Guernsey contingent over the 40.5k course, with Island Games triathlon silver medallist Megan Chapple being the top female representative.
At the end of a fast and flowing affair, Culverwell finished at the tail of a 10-man sprint, crossing the virtual line just 1sec. behind the leader’s 50min. 3sec. time.
Jack English followed promptly in 12th and eight seconds behind his teenage teammate.
Matt Osborn and Tony Bleasdale finished 40th and 72nd respectively in Category A, while the field brimmed with Sarnians across various divisions, including a solid women’s turnout.
Triathlete Chapple produced a solid ride to take 43rd in Category C.
This put her seven positions ahead of specialist cyclist Danielle Hanley and 22 ahead of fellow triathlete Emily Squire, who featured well despite suffering from a lost Wi-Fi signal at one point.
For Guernsey Velo Club president Mark Smith, the shift to Zwift has proven fruitful thus far.
‘People are adapting to it and there’s a couple of new people there,’ said Smith.
‘It’s nice to see Megan and Emily getting cycling and to see more ladies racing.
‘[Zwift] gives us the opportunity to carry on racing and keep the club going in terms of activity.
‘It’s nice to ride against other people – you could be riding against anybody in the world. One day you could be riding against your next door neighbours and the next day you are racing with some pros.’
With some Jersey riders featuring among the opposition last weekend, Smith is also hopeful of staging a virtual inter-insular in the near future.
But in the meantime, his plan to host a virtual Easter Festival is going ahead at full speed.
Action starts this evening with an 8km time-trial on the Bologna route – replicating a Giro d’Italia prologue course.
The next three days will challenge riders to a 16km criterium, 45km road race and 29.2km hilly road race, with Monday’s event being a 15km London Loop race.