Want to Win Zwift Races? Let Zwift Academy Finalist Help You
Reading time: 5 min

Want to Win Zwift Races? Let Zwift Academy Finalist Help You

Reading time: 5 min
An interview with the winner of VirtuSlo 4Endurance Zwift League.
Want to Win Zwift Races? Let Zwift Academy Finalist Help You

Jasper Paridaens established himself as a talented cyclist back in 2022 when he reached the Zwift Academy Finals. Unfortunately, he didn’t get the professional contract that was offered to the winner, but that didn’t discourage him to keep chasing his cycling dreams. 

Nowadays, he spends most of the year riding for the RB Zelfbouw UCT Team, but when the outdoor season ends, he doesn’t stop. He just switches outdoors for indoors and continues riding on Zwift, where he’s constantly among the best cyclists on the platform. 

At the end of 2023, he joined our VirtuSlo 4Endurance Zwift League, a six-week-long league with more than 550 participants. Saying he performed well would be an understatement, as he completely destroyed the competition and won all six races as well as the general classification. 

Jasper Paridaens - VirtuSlo 4Endurance Zwift LeagueJasper is force to be reckoned with.

Such an achievement forced us to sit down with him and discuss his dominance. We wanted to know what it takes to get on that level, how he felt about our league and did the success surprised him. 

Hello Jasper, congratulations on an amazing result. It was awesome watching you race. What’s your general experience with a VirtuSlo 4Endurance Zwift League? Did you enjoy it?

The VirtuSlo 4Endurance Zwift League was a fun experience that I definitely enjoyed. The courses and distance were well chosen, and it was always a challenge to perform well. 

A complete league like this is exceptional in Zwift. The fact that a dual recording was necessary to legitimize the result was also a trigger for me to participate. I am therefore grateful that the organizers wanted to put their energy into this because I understand that checking takes a little more time for them.

You won 6 out of 6 races. Did you expect such a success before the start of the league? 

Absolutely not. I know how hard it is to win a single race, especially in such a competitive field. Every time a victory came along, the challenge to win all six stages became bigger and bigger. Of course, this motivated me to suffer even harder.

The races were quite different course-wise, some flat and others hilly. Which did you prefer, and did you struggle with some?

Not a single victory came easily as races usually don’t go as smoothly as you would want to.

Both the flat and hilly races were definitely not easy to win. The Glasgow Crit Circuit was the most difficult for me, as the course required you to always be alert to possible breakaways. It’s the course where gaps can be made pretty much anywhere, so you must be extra cautious all the time which is psychologically demanding.

With different courses, the crucial moments come at different points in the race. What was your strategy going into races and did it change from one race to another?

My strategy was not to let any important or strong riders escape. Attack is always the best form of defense. 

The main selection was always made on the most difficult segments, usually climbs. So the stronger riders automatically came to the front, ultimately resulting in a fair man-to-man fight for the victory.

To achieve such a result, you must train hard. How much time per week do you spend training, and how much of it is on Zwift?

During the winter months, I maintain my fitness with mostly indoor Zwift training. This results in a weekly training volume of approximately 10-12 hours, of which only about an hour is done outside. Since the temperature in Belgium during winter is quite low, Zwift offers a nice alternative to outdoor riding.

Jasper Paridaens - Zwift Academy FinalistJasper prefers to train outdoors whenever possible. However, due to the Belgian weather, most of his training is done at Zwift during the winter months.

On Zwift the raw power plays a huge role. You must be able to sustain high effort for a long period of time. Do you perhaps have data on your average 20-minute power?

At the moment, my average 20-minute power is just under 400W, which, with me being around 70 kilograms, results in 5,7 W/kg. This is definitely not my favorite riding distance. 

If you want to be competitive on Zwift, you also have to have at least above average setup. What is your current pain cave setup?

Since the 2023 Zwift World Championship, I have been using a Wahoo Kickr Power V6.0, a very accurate trainer that calibrates itself, which I love. 

In addition, I always use a large fan, even when it is cold. During hotter days, I sometimes use as many as three fans. It’s really necessary to keep cool.

In 2022 you made it to the Zwift Academy Final. How did you manage to do that? How did you qualify?

To qualify for the Zwift Academy 2022 you had to successfully complete eight workouts and achieve a certain level of success. I managed to achieve this goal. I admit I was very happy that I made it to the final.

How did our league compare to the races at Zwift Academy?

They are very difficult to compare. The league races are effective races with high peak values, while I rode the Zwift academy workouts alone in ERG mode. They are specifically aimed at long-term efforts.

Jasper Paridaens - Zwift Academy 2022 FinalistIn 2022, Jasper Paridaens was competing for a professional contract through the Zwift Academy.

Which nutritional products did you use during VirtuSlo 4Endurance Zwift League races? What was your nutritional strategy?

It is crucial to hydrate yourself sufficiently during these races. As you are using a fan, you do not notice that you are actually losing a lot of fluids. 

Drinking enough fluids at the right time, supplemented with the necessary sugars, is crucial. I usually consume them in the form of isotonic drinks. During longer efforts of an hour and a half or more, I use energy gels to get more energy without the extra fluid.

I still have some space for improvement here. Compared to current trends I still use too little nutrition to perform optimally. This is something I need to work on.

You received quite a few Nduranz products as a reward for your wins. What do you think about them? 

I knew the brand but never used it until recently. I am very happy to have discovered the product and am pleasantly surprised. The flavors are very tasty and you can feel the difference after taking it. 

I now regularly use Nrgy Unit Drink 90 and Nrgy Unit Gels and I absolutely plan to continue using these products going forward. Never change a winning team.

16 x 75 g
Nrgy Unit Gel BoxNrgy Unit Gel Box
Nrgy Unit Gel Box

45 g CHO per gel with electrolytes

Regular price€39,99 Sale price€16,00
- 60%
39 reviews
1500 g
Nrgy Unit DrinkNrgy Unit Drink
Nrgy Unit Drink

45 g CHO per serving with electrolytes

Regular price€26,99 Sale price€9,99
- 63%
5 reviews
1500 g
Nrgy Unit Drink Buffer
Nrgy Unit Drink Buffer

45 g CHO per serving with sodium bicarbonate

Regular price€26,99 Sale price€9,99
- 63%
1 review
1500 g
Nrgy Unit Drink 90Nrgy Unit Drink 90
Nrgy Unit Drink 90

90 g CHO per serving with electrolytes

Regular price€26,99 Sale price€9,99
- 63%
3 reviews

I know such a success takes a lot of hard work and hours of training. But still, what would you advise other cyclists who want to improve on Zwift and win some races?

Experience and knowledge of the courses are a big plus on Zwift. Applying your effort one second too late can cause you to be dropped from the draft and thus lose a good result. 

Your short efforts of up to five minutes are also crucial. If you can push good numbers for up to five minutes, you will go a long way. 

So, in conclusion, keep riding Zwift races, discover courses, and, most importantly, have fun with the game.