The convenience and accessibility that make cycling esports attractive to athletes and enthusiasts raise a critical question. As we expand the boundaries of online competition, how can the sport guarantee a level playing field when athletes compete globally using diverse hardware from different manufacturers?
The standardization of hardware is one answer to the question.
“We are quite advanced in homologation of smart trainers,” said UCI’s Head of Innovation and Esports, Michael Rogers. “We are prepared to announce something within two to three months.”
Rogers revealed the UCI’s intentions during an interview with The Zommunique’ following a recent press conference in Abu Dhabi, UAE, to announce the 2024 UCI Cycling Esports World Championship on MyWhoosh.
It came in response to an inquiry into how the UCI plans to address concerns about digital doping and the perceived culture of cheating in cycling esports.
Smart trainer homologation is an independent certification process that evaluates and verifies the accuracy and reliability of different hardware available on the market. A motor is employed to supply a known power to the trainer linked to highly precise torque and rotational measurement sensors.
The system assesses a trainer’s baseline and dynamic characteristics, examining its reaction to the varying power requirements of a race scenario across the entire spectrum of an athlete’s performance.
Creating a device and protocol to characterize smart trainer behaviour is crucial for ensuring fair competition and providing competition organizers and governing bodies, such as the UCI, with the tools to make informed decisions about the integrity of the sport.
“Everyone calculates their metrics differently as power,” Rogers acknowledges the problems associated with variation in smart trainer accuracy across manufacturers.
“We have been working with a university for two years on a protocol for trainer accuracy standardization.”
Rogers shook his head with a wry smile when asked to share more details about the collaboration. However, an April 2021 report on the Purdue University College of Engineering website pulls back the curtain on the innovative work of the Ray Ewry Sports Engineering Center and potential insight into their collaboration with the UCI.
“In partnership with Purdue University, the UCI is creating a trainer homologation process that evens the playing field and…