The Performance-Result Gap in Mixed-Reality Cycling – Evidence from the Virtual Tour de France 2020 on Zwift

Westmattelmann D, Stoffers B, Sprenger M, Grotenhermen J-G, Schewe G

Background: Mixed-reality sports are increasingly reaching the highest level of sport, exemplified by the first Virtual Tour de France, held in 2020. In road races, power output data are only sporadically available, which is why the effect of power output on race results is largely unknown. However, in mixed-reality competitions, measuring and comparing the power output data of all participants is a fundamental prerequisite for evaluating the athlete’s performance.Objective: This study investigates the influence of different power output parameters (absolute and relative peak power output) as well as body mass and height on the results in mixed-reality competitions.Methods: We scrape data from all six stages of the 2020 Virtual Tour de France of women and men and analyze it using regression analysis. Third-order polynomial regressions are performed as a cubic relationship between power output and competition result can be assumed.Results: Across all stages, relative power output over the entire distance explains most of the variance in the results, with maximum explanatory power between 77% and 98% for women and between 84% and 99% for men. Thus, power output is the most powerful predictor of success in mixed-reality sports. However, the identified performance-result gap reveals that other determinants have a subordinate role in success. Body mass and height can explain the results only in a few stages. The explanatory power of the determinants considered depends in particular on the stage profile and the progression of the race.Conclusion: By identifying this performance-result gap that needs to be addressed by considering additional factors like competition strategy or the specific use of equipment, important implications for the future of sports science and mixed-reality sports emerge.

mixed-reality; Cycling; Result prediction; power output; elite athletes; competition

Publication type
Research article (journal)

Peer reviewed

Publication status


Frontiers in Physiology