Race report

Nicholas Roche claims strong 2nd place with Chris Hamilton 4th in Digital Swiss 5 Race 1

Digital Swiss 5

Today saw 19 teams, made up of three riders, compete in the opening race of the Digital Swiss 5, with Chris Hamilton, Wilco Kelderman and Nicholas Roche taking part for the team. A mountainous 26.6 kilometre long route awaited them and with all of riders’ Cervélo bikes set up on their Elite Cycling trainers, the flag dropped and the action started instantly.

Immediately the pace was high with the front runners pushing in excess of seven watts per kilogram for the opening flurry of attacks, before the race settled into a rhythm. With previous experience in virtual racing, Roche was well to the fore as the already disintegrated bunch hit the first climb. Picking off riders steadily, Roche moved up to third place by the crest, while behind Hamilton stealthily moved his way through the field into sixth place.

After a fast descent Roche had second-placed rider Whelan in his sights and on the latter half of the next climb, he made the catch before pushing on and gaining a gap. Likewise, Hamilton was dancing on the pedals and continued to pick off riders, moving up to fourth place. With everyone on their limit, the top ten didn’t change drastically in the closing kilometres.

Roche crossed the line in the virtual Leukerbad for a superb second place, while Hamilton crossed not long after for a strong fourth place, rounding out a good first race for the team.

Speaking after the race Roche said: “Ouch. It’s a very weird feeling. It’s not a time trial, it’s not a sprint; it’s more of a mental challenge than anything but obviously you need to be in good condition too. I’ve been practicing doing online races during the week because the effort is completely different to what we’re used to. I had a good battle with James Whelan, he put the pressure on me but I was able to see the kilowatts on the screen so I tried to follow his pace and then accelerate when he slowed down. I managed to do just that on the last bit and then get a gap.”

Hamilton added: “I finished in fourth place with Nicholas in second. I have to say that was one of the hardest hours I’ve ever had in my life; it was definitely the hardest I’ve ever gone on the indoor trainer before. It was good fun though!”