• Online cycling simulator Zwift is becoming an increasingly popular training tool for pros and amateurs alike. (Zwift)Source: Zwift
Mat Hayman has credited online cycling simulator Zwift with helping him to win Paris-Roubaix - did it also play a role in Michael Matthew's Tour de France stage win?
13 Jul 2016 - 8:15 AM  UPDATED 13 Jul 2016 - 10:20 AM

Orica-BikeExchange might have a secret weapon on their hands - the online cycling simulator Zwift.

Zwift is becoming an increasingly popular training tool for pros and amateurs alike, especially following Mat Hayman's use of Zwift prior to winning this year's edition of Paris-Roubaix,

Michael Matthews also seems to be getting on the program, tweeting that he was training on Zwift on the Tour's rest day before winning from a reduced bunch sprint on stage 10.

OK, Bling's only done one session on Zwift so far - totalling 1.5 hours and 35km - so it may be a stretch to call it a central plank of his training program.

Even so, pro riders are using Zwift as a training tool in greater numbers after Hayman credited his use of the program as playing a key role in his Paris-Roubaix victory earlier this year. Hayman broke his arm six weeks before Paris-Roubaix, and used Zwift to maintain his training regime while recuperating.

"Without Zwift as a training tool and motivator, I am not sure I would have been able to get the quantity and quality of work done to hold my form during my injury," he told Fairfax. "I was using it twice daily for many weeks, even when my arm was feeling good enough to try a road ride I stayed on the trainer as I knew I was getting some good work done."

Zwift requires you to link a smart trainer, power meter or speed sensor to your computer. The effort you put into riding your trailer directly correlates to the speed you ride around a virtual course - currently either an island called 'Watopia' or the 2015 Richmond World Championship course.

If you're using a smart trainer like a Wahoo Kickr, Zwift will adjust the resistance on your home trainer as the gradient on the course changes as if you're riding outdoors. You can also ride with or race other people using Zwift at the same time, with some organised bunch rides numbering more than 200 riders.

Takeup has been extremely high in Australia in particular, with Aussie 'Zwifters' reacting to Matthews' win with delight (as well as Zwift themselves).

Orica-BikeExchange riders aren't the only ones getting on the Zwift program: Lotto-Soudal sprinter Andre Greipel is known to use Zwift occasionally, and Trek-Segafredo are running 'ride with the pros' bunch rides on Zwift during the rest days on the Tour.

Find out more about Zwift.