Thomas De Gendt was pulled from a virtual race for ‘superhuman’ powers

It was the virtual equivalent of a crash.

Belgium’s Thomas De Gendt, who rides for Lotto Soudal, was doing what many elite athletes are doing during the suspension of sports by the novel coronavirus pandemic: He was using Zwift, an app for cyclists and runners that says it “turns indoor training into a game,” to work out and compete.

He was tooling along nicely last week when, suddenly, he slowed to a crawl despite pedaling furiously. What the what was happening? Zwift detected something was amiss and pulled him from the race.

“Either you missed your calling as a pro,” he said he was told in a message on his screen, “or there is something wrong with one of your devices.”  (This is the same message I get all the time on Zwift, which is why I stick to Sufferfest.  Well, it’s something like, “you’re pedaling too slow and blocking the road, get a motor”, which is similar right?)

De Gendt, of course, hadn’t missed his calling as a pro at all, and he quickly tweeted to the app: “i got thrown out of a race because of my superhuman power. Can you fix the stats for me?”

More and more athletes are using apps such as Zwift, and De Gendt was showing Tim Wellens, a Lotto Soudal teammate, the ropes.

“On a climb I just did the numbers that I more or less push in a race. Suddenly I was blocked and neutralized by the game,” he told Het Nieuwsblad, a Flemish newspaper. “You may still pedal so hard, but you are still set at a low speed. That’s a bit of a shame when you’re on a race.”

He went on to say that he hoped Zwift and other online apps would expand the parameters for users.

“It is only a game of course on Zwift, but I have a logo behind my name that I am a pro, so I hope those values can be lifted a bit,” De Gendt said. “Those races on Zwift are just perfect training for me.”

And more………..

Things were going well for Australian triathlete Mirinda Carfrae as she competed in a bike race from the confines of her home in Boulder, Colo.

Suddenly, Carfrae, a former triathlon world champion, was no longer second in the inaugural Ironman VR Pro Challenge women’s race, which was being broadcast live on Facebook. The culprit? She believed she hadn’t firmly plugged her bike into the wall outlet.

Alas, the explanation for the electrical failure lay elsewhere.

Her husband, triathlete Tim O’Donnell, confessed he had tripped over the cord when he entered the room and moved behind her to hold up cards for the camera.

“He decided to bring my trophies in here as motivation, and when he walked around the back, he kicked out the plug,” she said with a laugh on her Instagram story. “What an idiot!”

She kept pedaling in the 55-mile race anyway and later held up a sign that read, “It’s Tim’s fault.”

Carfrae vowed she won’t be seeking retribution.

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