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All The Hype… But For What?

This is a bit of a rant… but here we go 🙂

Today I joined the Jonas Vingegaard Tour de France Celebration Ride. Tons of articles went out on the internet about this event. The event saw over 3000 riders from around the globe sign up for this event. It was the first time Zwift has hosted the Tour de France winner on the platform for a social ride.

With around 10 seconds to go before the event started, over 1700 riders had already entered the ride. Hundreds of messages flooded the chat, hundreds congratulating Jonas for is iconic win. But where was Jonas? The clock slowly ticked to zero, and by the time the pens opened, Jonas still was nowhere in sight. I slowly pedaled out of the pens with 1,700 riders, thinking to myself This is going to be a disaster. After around 30 seconds, riders started to notice that they had been congratulating Jonas, even though he wasn’t in the ride. Rest assured, he showed up around 2 minutes late, letting us all know that he had Wi-Fi issues – as expected. However, the disappointment did not end here. As with most professional athletes on the platform(especially professional cyclists), they don’t talk much. Over the course of 45 minutes, we got 5 messages from Jonas. 5 out of the thousands sent on that ride.

Yet another thing that annoyed me was his inconsistent pacing. Yes, he probably doesn’t know a whole lot about Zwift, but when you late join, there is no need to catch up. At the start of the ride, he held a steady 3-4 wkg, which upset quite a few people. The advertised pace was 1-2.5 wkg. He then settled to a 1.5-2 wkg pace after pushing 3+ wkg for around 5 minutes – much closer to the advertised pace.

Message 1: Letting riders know that he had technical difficulties

Message 2: Asking if anyone had any questions – as you can probably imagine, the chat went wild.

Message 3: Answering one question about when he is going to race again – Messages answered – 1/500+

Message 4: He told us how many watts he did on the mountain stage

Message 5: Thanking everyone for joining

What could Zwift have done about this?

Zwift could have at least provided a few tips to help Jonas lead a group ride. With thousands of riders on the platform at the same time, in the same ride, there are bound to be technical difficulties. Zwift could have warned him, and told him to join the event early rather than doing a 15 minute warm up ride. Regarding pacing, there were tons of Zwift HQ employees on the ride, they could have let him know that there is no need to push after late joining, you join approximately where you would be if you were to do the whole event.

Did I still enjoy it?

I have mixed feelings. I loved being in the company of 1700 riders. I loved that I could draft the ENTIRE time. I loved that there were loads of welcoming folks. Yes, I got to ride with the Tour de France winner. But I still wish that Jonas would chatted a little more, had a consistent pace, and acknowledged some of the important messages that he got. He likely got 5-10 messages JUST from kids who are inspired by this young man. All they asked was for a little acknowledgment, a simple answer to their questions. Am I wrong to expect the Tour de France winner to chat more than 5 times in a group ride?

BTW – Jonas’ screenshot shows someone saying “Hello Oliver” to me in the chat. I’m honored. Any questions or comments about this post? Did you participate in the ride? What are your thoughts?

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1 year ago

This happens a bit with pro-cyclist-led rides. Many are very new to Zwift and simply thrown into the ride under obligation, plus their “easy” pace is so far removed from our “regular Joe” pace that they simply tap away at 4w/kg or something crazy as they don’t know any better.

Leading a group ride is tough at the best of times. Some coaching or tips from Zwift should be a no brainer for any new pros leading group rides. The last one I did (can’t recall the pro) he flew out of the gate and was two minutes up the road before the bunch even realised.

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