The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) - the world governing body for cycling - just announced that the first ever Cycling Esports World Championships will take place on 8 and 9 December 2020. Competitors will participate remotely via the virtual racing app Zwift, which tracks live cycling metrics from connected 'turbo trainers' (think treadmills for bicycles). These metrics directly translate into each competitor's virtual avatar's race performance.
It's exciting news that makes complete sense in light of the ubiquitous mandate to respect social distancing. While I count down the days, I'm wondering whether we will see a live stream with production value equivalent to traditional cycling events (with analysis and ancillary content)? Will will see a flurry of sponsorship and marketing activity as brands seek to activate in this exciting new space? There is a whole range of interesting commercial and legal considerations arising from this inaugural digital cycling event. If all goes well, I can see more traditional sports seeking to replicate a similar model.
Virtual races were hugely popular during the period that competitions ceased, and I truly believe in the potential of esports to help grow participation in our sport. This is a historic moment.