parPARIS (Reuters) - Les femmes d'élite n'ont toujours pas de Tour de France pour montrer leur talent mais au cours des trois prochains week-ends, elles atteindront l'égalité dans la première version "virtuelle" de l'événement.
With the most prestigious cycling race moving from its traditional niche from July to August due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Zwift online training platform, in collaboration with the organizers of the ASO Tour, has helped fill the void.
The event, which includes six specially designed animated stages, will see the tastes of world time trial champion Chloe Dygert and the great Dutchwoman Marianne Vos on the same course as men.
A total of 23 male and 17 female professional teams are confirmed with quadruple Tour champion Chris Froome joined by team colleagues Ineos Egan Bernal, reigning champion, and 2018 winner Geraint Thomas.
Stages one and two of this weekend will take place on the fantastic volcanic island of Zwift, Watopia, with visual additions inspired by Nice, the host city of the Grand Départ in August.
Other stages include familiar French terrain, including the fearsome Mont Ventoux on the fifth stage before the traditional arrival on a virtual Champs-Elysées.
“I can’t imagine July without a bike,” said Christian Prudhomme, director of the Tour de France.
“Thanks to the virtual Tour de France, which will be widely broadcast on television, the champions and their fans will fill the void left by the Tour de France, which will bring together
the public in Nice on August 29. ”
Viewers from 130 countries will be able to watch the action while amateur runners will have the opportunity to participate in mass races on the same roads as the pros.
“Since I was a boy, I would always be glued to television for three weeks in July, so I feel incredibly privileged for Zwift to be able to host the first virtual edition of this year,” said Eric Min, Zwift CEO and co -founder.
The six-hour stages offer equal opportunities to sprinters, climbers and all-rounders, and teams will compete in the traditional yellow, green and polka dot Tour de France jerseys using a point system.
(Report by Martyn Herman, edited by Ed Osmond)