When Rally Cycling received a wildcard invite to the Virtual Tour de France, team management knew it needed a competitive edge. That's when they approached one of the world's top-ranked Zwift racers, Holden Comeau (Saris + The Pro's Closet), to share his unique expertise with the team.
"To beat the best, you need to out-prepare as well as outperform. That in a nutshell is why we brought in Holden," Patrick McCarty, the men's team director explained.
With every team from the men's and women's WorldTour represented, it was imperative to gain as much insight into online racing as possible ahead of the fiercely competitive races. Comeau, as an athlete, coach, technologist, and gamer, routinely beats up on the best riders in the world. He was a perfect choice.
"When Rally Cycling first approached me they wanted to know if it was possible to prepare a real-life road team for a virtual race in a short amount of time. I knew that it was."
Both men's and women's teams held video calls with Comeau and teammate Matt Gardiner ahead of Zwift training sessions.
McCarty says the team jumped at the chance to enlist Comeau's expertise.
"We deal in performance, so it was a no brainer to consult with Holden - especially in something as important as the Virtual Tour de France. We immediately dove in and covered everything from internet speeds to team tactics."
In cooperation with Comeau and his eRacing team, Saris + The Pro's Closet, Rally Cycling has already produced results. On Saturday, July 4th, Pier-André Coté bagged second place on stage 1 of the Virtual Tour.
"It has been fantastic having Holden on the team, he's brought a bunch of great insight and I felt super confident with him joining our team Discord channel on race day."
Coté's electrifying sprint secured Rally Cycling the race's first white jersey for best young rider and put the team second in the general classification.
"I was delighted to get such a great result on stage 1, to grab the white jersey and put the team second in the yellow jersey classification, and I have to think Holden for his advice as well as all the team for its support."
Coté following stage 1 of the Virtual Tour de France.
The value of having an expert to bring riders who are new to the world of Watopia up to speed is hard to overstate, Cote explained.
"Personally, I've done a lot of Zwift racing already, but Holden's expertise has been invaluable for those who are relatively new to the platform. Helping them get up to speed quickly."
Going further, Comeau explains that Zwift is a tactically nuanced racing environment.
"There's a video game and tactics perspective. That's an overlooked skill, maybe it's comparable to bike handling skills for a road cyclist. But that skill, that gaming skill, is a really significant component of how you achieve success on Zwift."
Comeau was ranked number 1 in the world for four months over the winter and has been in the top 10 of the official rankings for a year and a half. He cites his ability to 'play the game' of Zwift as the reason he consistently outperforms riders with better on-paper numbers. His gaming skills set has carried him through to the finish ahead of professional racers time and again."
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