Zwift users rejoice! Your next virtual ride could count towards ride challenges on Strava.

Up until now, challenges have only counted data from rides that have taken place outdoors with a GPS track. Now, the California-based company has given its partners the option to allow virtual rides to count towards their challenges.

This means the company has taken a step further towards embracing virtual rides on platforms such as Zwift, giving partners the option to reward efforts made in the virtual world.

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Strava’s own challenges, including the monthly gran fondo, climbing and distance badges, will remain unaffected by the change, however - you’ll still need to physically go outside and ride your bike for data to count.

Furthermore, for a virtual ride to count to a partner challenge, Strava says a virtual file must include GPS, distance, elevation and time data from a simulated route.

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Strava’s David Lorsch said: “Enabling virtual riding and running activities to count towards some of our challenges will help even more athletes benefit from the motivation our challenges and Zwift provide.

“We’re excited to have this additional team of riders and runners participate in challenges on Strava."

On the development, Zwift co-founder and CEO Eric Min added: “Our community loves Strava. Seventy-five per cent have connected their Zwift membership to Strava, accounting for 250,000 Zwift activities currently uploaded each week.

“These people are also passionate about riding and running outdoors, so it’s both fantastic and fitting that their Zwifting can count towards partner challenges on Strava."

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The first partner to allow virtual rides to count is clothing brand Le Col, in its ‘10 Hour Season Starter’ challenge, currently running until 14 February.

For the time being, it is unclear how many other brands will follow suit and opt to allow virtual rides to count towards their challenges.