If this season had gone as planned, today would mark the third stage of the 2020 Tour de France and riders would be setting off from Nice and preparing for the sprint finish in Sisteron after 198km.
Instead racing is still suspended and we are eagerly awaiting the return of WorldTour competition.
But Zwift has offered up yet another innovation to fill the racing void this season, by announcing the first ever virtual Tour de France with classifications for both men and women.
The new online event, which will run over three weekends in July, will feature star riders including Chris Froome, Geraint Thomas, Egan Bernal, Marianne Vos and Chloe Dygert.
As 23 men’s teams and 17 women’s squads race over six stages, including a virtual recreation of Mont Ventoux and the iconic Champs Élysées finish in Paris, amateur riders will also be able to get involved through the online L’Etape du Tour mass participation event.
Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme said: “I cannot imagine the month of July without cycling.
“Thanks to the virtual Tour de France, which will be widely broadcast on TV, the champions and their fans will fill in the void left by the Tour de France, which will reunite with the public in Nice on 29 August. The Tour Virtuel puts technology to work for passion and the cause of cycling for everyone.”
Racing will start this coming Saturday and Sunday (July 4-5) with both stages being set on the Watopia map.
Stages three, four and five will be held on a new French map designed specifically for this new event, while stage five will be the Queen Stage as riders race to Chalet Reynard on Mont Ventoux.
Then on stage six, the peloton will take to the Champs-Élyśees to finish in front of the Arc de Triomphe.
Both the men and women will cover identical stages over the same distances and each race will receive the same broadcast coverage.
Riders will be awarded the famous yellow, green, polka-dot and white jerseys while the best overall team will also be crowned.
Each stage will also see a ‘Most Aggressive Rider’ award presented.
The race will also help raise money for good causes, as charitable initiative Tour de France United will be offering donations to Emmaüs, Secours Populaire, Jeugdfonds Sport and Cultuur, BiJeWa and Qhubeka.
Zwift CEO Eric Min said: “There’s nothing bigger than the Tour de France in cycling, so to say I’m excited would be an understatement.
“Since I was a boy, I would always be glued in front of the TV for three weeks in July, so I feel incredibly privileged for Zwift to be able to play host to the first virtual edition this year. Of course, we all very much look forward to the race returning this August, but the good news is there will still be racing in July. The Virtual Tour de France will be a celebration of the event featuring the stars of the men’s and women’s pro pelotons, all in aid of five great causes. Let’s also not forget, there is a great chance to take part through the Virtual l’Etape du Tour de France rides as well!”
The Virtual L’Etape du Tour will be held on the same three weekends covering stages on two and three, with 16 sessions being spread over each weekend.
Alé BTC Ljubljana
Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team
Ceratizit – WNT Pro Cycling
FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope
Lotto Soudal Ladies
TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank
TWENTY20 Pro Cycling
Valcar Travel & Service
AG2R La Mondiale
Astana Pro Team
B&B Hotels-Vital Concept
Team Bahrain McLaren
Deceuninck – Quick-Step
EF Education First Pro Cycling
Israel Start-Up Nation
NTT Pro Cycling
TOTAL Direct Énergie
This content was originally published here.
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