Get to know the Virtual Tour stage winner from Ottawa.
A former Canadian National road champion and long-time Zwifter, Matteo Dal-Cin came up through Canada's cycling development pathway to win the overall at the Redlands Bicycle Classic and GP Cycliste de Saguenay before joining Rally Cycling in 2017. Following his incredible win in the Virtual Tour de France, we caught up with the 'Wattage Beluga' in his hometown of Ottawa, Ontario in our latest installment of "Things With'.
Growing up I played hockey and soccer. Riding was always a 'thing' in our family, both my parents rode and from super, super young I always had a bike. However, it didn't really exist as an organized sport on my radar until much later.
I got into bike racing for the adventure. After stopping hockey and starting to ride more, I still really enjoyed soccer, but it seemed like there was more adventure with bike racing. I had some opportunities with the national team in cycling and got to see the world. Now here I am, racing in my basement!
I was a Zwift Beta tester. I signed up three years ago now, right when it came out. We also had a Wahoo KICKR trainer at home right from the word go. The racing in particular is a great way to make the trainer time pass quicker. You hop on, you warm up, you do the race, then you cool down. Two hours pass and you don't really realize it.
I race two to three times a week on Zwift in winter. I'd say I'm pretty invested, but not like some guys who are doing multiple races a day. When I came home to Ottowa at the start of Covid-19, it was still pretty wintery here, so I was signing up for the community races on all the days I couldn't get outside. At that point, we were still fooling ourselves into thinking that we were going to go back to Europe in two or three weeks time.
As a North American, there are not many paths to racing in Europe. I feel super fortunate that Rally Cycling gave me an opportunity to prove myself, and I'm very grateful for that.
The 'wattage beluga' is a private joke that went global. A while back, GCN had this ongoing 'Wattage Bazooka' joke (whenever a pro rider launched a powerful attack it was referred to as a wattage bazooka), and my ride buddies and I were joking about it because a couple of us are bigger riders - we were joking how we were whales, and if one of us was doing a good effort we would say they were the Wattage Beluga. Then, the first year I competed in the Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec, my buddy drew that sign up and brought it to the side of the road. I have the poster up in my trainer room and it got noticed by Cycling News during the Digital Swiss 5.
It sucks not getting to see your buddies for going on five months. I feel like a lot of the guys on our team and the support staff, we're all friends, some of my closest friends, and with us all being spread all over the continent we just don't get to see each other if there are no races.
To win a stage of the Virtual Tour is a strange feeling. Because you're racing at home, it feels a lot like signing up for any community Zwift race. All the steps are the same, but then the names on the start list are these huge hitters! It gets hard early and never drops. My heart rate went up close to max and it just flatlined and stayed there the whole tie. Thankfully, it's only an hour, so it's uncomfortable but you can get through it.
This year I'm just stoked if we can get back and race outside. It will be interesting to see what sort of level people are at. We are all starting from a point zero racing. At this point in the season you would usually have some guys who've been at WorldTour races for five months, and others who have only done 2.2 events. That top-quality racing has a huge effect on your form. It would be cool if we can be a little bit more competitive than usual in terms of how we stack up - fingers crossed that that's the case.