The virtual cobblestones of Richmond, VA were no match for Rally Cycling on stage 2 of Zwift’s Tour For All. Canadian U23 road champ Nickolas Zukowsky kicked things off with an incredible sixth-place finish from a lead group that included Olympic Road champion Greg Van Avermaet (CCC Team) and three-time World Cyclocross champion Matthieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix).
In the women’s race, Krista Doebel-Hickok went toe to toe with the CCC-LIV pair of Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio and Marianne Vos before a marvelous fourth-place finish that catapulted her up the overall points standings. Heidi Franz won the sprint behind for 11th.
“Physically, I’m feeling pretty destroyed right now,” said Zukowsky following his early morning effort. “The top guys have some serious horsepower and being competitive in the finale leaves me satisfied. I’m happy with the result.”
Not all riders have fully made the transition into virtual racing but Zukowsky is not part of that group. The young Canadian put his knowledge of the Zwift platform to good use, knowing when to coast and when to apply power in advance of the steeper gradients.
“It’s pretty cool racing against the top riders in the world from my basement,” added Zukowsky. “Still a little bit weird but good fun. There’s a level of gameplay with the mid-race powerups and I’m enjoying that new dynamic.”
Doebel-Hickok has competed in back-to-back stages and finished in the top 10 both times. She knew who she was going up against and applied pressure at the base of the final climb.
“I saw some people were fatigued and it was my best shot to win the race,” said Doebel-Hickok. “It was a challenging course and I was going up against some extremely talented ladies that pack a strong burst of speed. I had to hurt them early and hope I could take some of the sting out of their legs.”
One of the most important things for any athlete is making sure they recover properly between efforts and workouts. Doebel-Hickok is a leader in this area.
“From the time I wake up to the time I go to bed, I treat this as my job at a stage race,” said Doebel-Hickok. “So when I finish a stage, it’s all about recovery. In my mind, tomorrow’s race starts when today’s ends. I think practicing good recovery is one of the opportunities of Tour For All and I want to keep testing my physical and mental limits.”
Wednesday’s stage 3 is the longest of the week by nearly 25 km and the hills are expected to be less selective than the previous days. Expect team tactics to come into play.
Men’s stage 2 results
1 Michael Gogl (Aut) NTT Pro Cycling 1:02:39
2 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) CCC Team 0:00:01
3 Mathieu Van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix 0:00:02
4 Nicholas Schultz (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott 0:00:04
5 Michael Valgren (Den) NTT Pro Cycling 0:00:14
6 Nickolas Zukowsky (Can) Rally Cycling ”
7 Lawson Craddock (USA) EF Pro Cycling 0:00:37
8 Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) Alpecin-Fenix 0:00:59
9 James Whelan (Aus) EF Pro Cycling 0:01:05
10 Luke Durbridge (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott 0:01:13
Women’s stage 2 results
1 Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (RSA) CCC-Liv 1:09:46
2 Lauren Stephens (USA) Team Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank 0:00:07
3 Marianne Vos (Ned) CCC-Liv 0:00:10
4 Krista Doebel-Hickok (USA) Rally Cycling Women “
5 Kristen Faulkner (USA) Team Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank 0:00:18
6 Nina Kessler (Ned) Team Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank 0:00:32
7 Jessica Pratt (Aus) Canyon-Sram Racing 0:00:47
8 Tanja Erath (Ger) Canyon-Sram Racing 0:00:54
9 April Tacey (GBr) Drops 0:01:03
10 Christine Majerus (Lux) Boels Dolmans Cyclingteam 0:01:07