Best Zwift routes for triathlon training: how to make your race day bike split stronger than ever

Riding on Zwift is a great way for triathletes to power up their bike training. Whether you’re looking to improve your climbing or up your top end power - discover some of the best Zwift routes for triathlon training.

Writer & Long Course Triathlete
Last updated -

Indoor cycling on Zwift can be a great way to boost your triathlon training. Whether it’s a way to rack up the endurance miles when the weather is bad, or getting bang for your buck power gains. Zwift has pretty much every type of route you need to support your triathlon training, and to keep you entertained along the way.

There are enough world maps and routes on Zwift to keep you busy exploring all year round. We’ll take you through some of the best Zwift routes for triathlon training, depending on what distance you’re racing, the course profile you’re targeting or the gains you’re looking to make. If you’re new to the world of indoor cycling on Zwift, make sure you check out our guide to getting started.

Best Zwift routes for long training rides

When the weather turns or when life outside of triathlon means you need to stay close to home, doing your long training ride on the turbo can be an effective and efficient way to get the miles in.

Riding on the turbo trainer means you’re constantly turning the pedals and putting out power. There’s no need to free wheel and no traffic junctions to coast towards. Tick off a few long rides on Zwift, and you’ll get some pretty huge endurance gains in a short amount of time.

The longest, toughest routes on Zwift

Want to challenge yourself with a route that will have you racking up the ‘ride-ons’? Zwift have you covered!

First up is the PRL Full, which you’ll find in Zwift’s London world. At 173km with 2623m of ascent, this is the longest route you’ll currently find on Zwift. The route is actually completed by ticking off a whopping 11 loops of the London circuit. Which means you’ve got to ride up Box Hill (3km, 4.3% average gradient) 11 times. This is definitely a great route for triathlon training when it comes to building up mental toughness as well as endurance. Complete it, and alongside bragging rights you’ll get 3460XP and the coveted route badge.

Zwift route map of the Uber Pretzel
Finishing with the Alpe Du Zwift after 115km in the saddle makes the Über Pretzel a tough route to complete.

Next is the Über Pretzel in Watopia. This route is shorter than the PRL Full, but with 2335m of elevation gain packed into just shy of 129km of riding the Über Pretzel is possibly the hardest route on Zwift. For more variety and a bit less time in the saddle than you’ll get with the PRL Full, the Über Pretzel is a great choice. You’ll conquer the Epic KOM, Volcano KOM, Zwift KOM reverse and you’ll finish up with the Alpe Du Zwift, just to make sure the legs are well and truly cooked. To break up all that climbing, you’ve got the JWB sprint (forward and reverse) and the Fuego Flats sprint. If you’re looking for a Zwift route to help you prepare for the IRONMAN World Championship bike course in Nice, the Über Pretzel should be your go-to.

Longer routes for zone 2 endurance rides

If the PRL Full and the Über Pretzel are sounding a little too extreme for that easy, zone 2 endurance ride you had in mind there are also some longer routes on Zwift which aren’t quite so punchy.

Head to virtual France for a spin round the Petit Boucle route. This route is just under 61km long and features a 483m of ascent. Far kinder to the quads than the 2000m plus of climbing you’ll find on the longer routes we’ve mentioned above – but there’s still enough climbing to keep you occupied. On this route you’ll ride up the Aqueduc KOM (forward and in reverse at average gradients of 3% and 5% respectively) before a petit spin up the Petit KOM (2.7km, 4% average gradient). The route also features six sprint segments if you need to wake the legs up. Petit Boucle is ideal for middle distance triathletes. And for long course triathletes, it’s enough distance to get a few solid hours in the saddle without things getting repetitive even if you have to ride round more than once. Plus, it’s a zone 2 friendly route… as long as you can resist the temptation to go for the jersey on every sprint and climb.

Image of the Aqueduc KOM in Zwift's Petit Boucle route
The Aqueduc KOM in Zwift’s Petit Boucle route takes you across the Pont du Gard.

The Big Ring route in Watopia is a new addition, released as part of Zwift’s October 2023 Southern Coast expansion. Currently this is the longest flat route you’ll find in Watopia – it’s 48.9km long with 268m ascent and a 3.5/5 effort rating. A trip or two around The Big Ring is ideal for getting a solid, long zone 2 effort done. It’s also a nice opportunity to practice putting out sustained power and spending time in the aero position if you usually ride a time trial bike.

Routes to improve your climbing

Booked a triathlon with a hilly bike course? Heading off on a triathlon training camp and need to find your climbing legs before you go? If you’re not lucky enough to live somewhere with decent climbing on your doorstep, riding around the virtual roads of Zwift can be a good way to get that elevation in.

How to access the Alpe du Zwift and the Ventoux climbs on Zwift

Some of the long routes we’ve mentioned above are clearly great for getting some climbing in. But if you’re not up for spending a vast amount of time in your pain cave, the following routes give you quick access to two of Zwift’s best climbs – Alpe du Zwift and Ventoux.

The Alpe du Zwift KOM is 12.2km long, with 1036m elevation gain and a quad-crunching 8.5% average gradient. Zwift used GPS data to create this route, matching the incline, distance and hairpin turns of the famous Alpe d’Huez climb. Several routes in Watopia include the Alpe du Zwift, but for maximum efficiency the Road to Sky is the shortest route on offer (17.5km, 1046m ascent, 4.5/5 difficulty rating). If you want to do a slightly longer ride, at 45.9km long the Quatch Quest route is another good option.

Image of the Ventoux climb summit in the Ven-Top Zwift route
The Ven-Top Zwift route is based on the famous Mt. Ventoux climb in France.

Ventoux is the longest climb currently available on Zwift, modelled after the infamous Mt. Ventoux in France. This climb is 19km long, with an average gradient of 8% and 1481m of ascent. It’s perfect for practicing your long, sustained climbing efforts. To ride Ventoux, you’ll need to head to the Ven-Top route in France. Ven-Top is just under 21km, so if you pick this route you can expect to spend pretty much your entire ride going up! Make sure you build into the climb steadily to avoid blowing up if you’ve not warmed up beforehand.

Ride famous climbs from around the world with Zwift Climb Portals

Climb Portal is a new addition to Zwift. It gives riders the chance to complete a selection of world famous climbs without leaving their indoor training pain cave. That includes climbs such as triathlon training camp favourite, Mallorca’s Sa Calobra (10.77km, 659m ascent, 6% average gradient).

The climbs available vary, just as the Zwift world schedules do. You’ll be able to see the current climbs and select a Climb Portal route in the ‘Just Ride’ row on your Zwift home screen. At any given time, a ‘short’ and ‘long’ climb option will be available from the climb portals.

Whether you’re training for a triathlon with a lumpy course profile or getting training camp-ready. There’s more than enough elevation to be found on Zwift to embrace your inner mountain goat.

The best routes to train for fast, flat triathlon courses or to dial in your TT position

If you’ve entered a triathlon with a fast, predominantly flat bike course – such as Challenge Almere-Amsterdam or IRONMAN Barcelona – being able to maintain consistent power and hold the aero position is key. The turbo trainer is a great way to dial in your aero position. Without any junctions, traffic or corners to worry about you can really focus on holding the position. Some triathletes even install a mirror in their pain cave so they can check their form on the bike and really optimise their aero gains.

If time down on the TT bars is the aim of the game, you’ll want to choose a Zwift route that gives you the opportunity to tap out consistent power and doesn’t warrant getting out of the saddle for any climbs.

Zwift Academy Tri Specialized Shiv Disc 2022
Riding on Zwift can be a great way to really get dialled in to your time trial position.

The obvious choice is Tempus Fugit in Watopia. This route is just under 20km and features 32m of elevation gain from start to finish. Though like the vast majority of routes on Zwift, it can be lapped for a longer ride. It’s currently the fastest, flattest route you can ride on Zwift. With little to disrupt your flow, this Zwift route is perfect for spending time in the aero position pushing steady power.

If zooming round and round the virtual roads of Tempus Fugit isn’t for you, another option is the Triple Flat Loops route – also in Watopia. At 34km with 157m of elevation, this a longer and ever-so-slightly rolling route. While you’ll need to ride it multiple times in one session, this route could be a good option to include as part of your long ride repertoire if you’re training for the IRONMAN World Championship in Kona. You’ll want to get some climbing in too, of course, for that climb up to Hawi. But a huge part of racing well in Kona comes down to being able to hold your aero position to defy the winds. Get a solid mix of aero bar time and climbing time, and you’ll be invincible.

If you’re racing draft-legal sprint and standard distance triathlons, or getting ready for the new PTO age-group Open Series events which are likely to have multi-lap courses with punchy climbs, being able to react to surges or push hard on the hills will be key.

The UCI Reverse route in Richmond starts off with two relatively short, sharp climbs followed by a fast flat section. At just over 16km long, this Zwift route is a great way to train for multi-lap courses where you’ll want to be able to keep momentum on the climbs each lap while leaving enough in the tank to push power on the flatter sections.

Twilight Harbor in Makuri Islands is short and sweet. It has two sprint segments and nothing too taxing in the way of elevation gain, making it a great route for racking up the all-out efforts. Push the power and enjoy the speed, or join a pacing group to practice your drafting skills. The more you can get a feel for the different power efforts you’ll need to hold a wheel or surge past someone, the easier it’ll be to respond to triathlon race dynamics back out in the real world.

To really test your legs over a shorter distance and practicing blasting out the power, head to Scotland where the Muckle Yin route will be your pointy ride of choice. This route takes in all of the Zwift Scotland sights, and you’ll come across four climbs (ranging in average gradient from 2% to 3.7%) before finishing with a sprint.

Zwift is a powerful tool for triathlon training, helping you to train consistently, target race-specific intensities and ride a variety of route profiles that you probably wouldn’t be able to access from your own front door. Use it well, and spending time on Zwift could be the key to taking your triathlon performance to the next level!

Zwift route FAQs

Is Zwift good for triathlon training?

Zwift is a great tool for triathlon training. It allows you to get consistent bike training in all weathers, complete high quality, specific workouts and ride a wide variety of course profiles. You can also use Zwift for your run training, provided you have a treadmill with Bluetooth FTMS/ANT+ enabled treadmill, or a solution such as a Stryd footpod.

How many Zwift routes are there?

There are currently 205 routes on Zwift, across 12 virtual worlds. Some routes are only rideable during events, and others have to be unlocked by gaining XP to level up.

How do I choose a route on Zwift?

For free rides: Select the globe icon on the home screen. Pick from the three worlds available and then select a route. In workout mode, select the workout and then choose a route to complete it on.

How do I unlock more routes on Zwift?

Level up to unlock more routes by earning XP points. Every ride gets you XP, but participating in group ride events or completing workouts can help you to earn more XP and level up faster.

What is the longest route on Zwift?

The PRL Full in London is the longest route on Zwift, with riders having to complete 173km (107.5 miles) by riding the London loop (and Box Hill) 11 times to get the route badge.

What is the hardest route on Zwift?

The Über Pretzel route in Watopia is the hardest route on Zwift, with 2335m of elevation gain packed into just under 129 kilometres of riding – including a trip up Alpe Du Zwift.

What is the flattest route on Zwift?

Tempus Fugit in Watopia is the flattest route on Zwift, featuring just 32 metres of elevation from start to finish of the 19.6km route.

Which Zwift routes include Alpe du Zwift?

Alpe du Zwift is included in the following routes within Watopia: Accelerate to Elevate, Four Horsemen, Quatch Quest, Road to Sky, The Über Pretzel, Tour of Fire and Ice.

Jenny Lucas-Hill
Written by
Jenny Lucas-Hill
Jenny Lucas-Hill is a writer, content creator and communications professional. A long-distance triathlon enthusiast, she has three full Iron-distance finishes to date & also loves watching the sport.


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