For road cyclists, July is synonymous with the most famous race in the sport: the Tour de France. This year, the race has been postponed to August 29 due to the coronavirus pandemic, making it the first time that the Tour has postponed or has not taken place at all since World War II.
But you can still get your solution in the meantime with the Zwift Virtual Tour of France, which starts on July 4.
Zwift hosts the virtual race in collaboration with the race organizers, which will be broadcast in more than 130 countries. You can also watch it live online here.
“I can’t imagine July without a bike,” said Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme in the press release. “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 find the public in Nice on August 29. “
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Cyclists from 23 men’s professional teams and 17 female professional teams are ready to race, including big names like Chris Froome, Marianne Vos, Geraint Thomas, Anna Van der Breggen, Egan Bernal and Greg Van Avermaet.
The virtual race will be divided into six stages, each lasting approximately one hour, over the next three weekends. Men and women will compete in the same exact stages, on the same course for the same distance, at different times. This is a step in the right direction for female professional cycling, which has been looking for a fair and sustainable female equivalent to the Tour de France for decades. The women will open the race by running the first stage; in addition, they will also receive the same exact broadcast coverage as men.
“The women’s field is slightly smaller because there are fewer WorldTour teams,” said a Zwift representative. Bicycling. “We hope initiatives like this will help encourage growth in the women’s peloton.”
According to the Zwift representative, the organizer of the Tour de France A.S.O. invited teams to participate; most are WorldTour level teams and a few are continental. The size of the teams is limited to four riders for each stage, but teams are allowed to alternate between different riders in order to better adapt to their training schedules.
The virtual race will award the same jerseys recognizable to the runners who win the general, mountain, sprint and best young rider rankings. These will be awarded on the basis of a point system.
Steps 1 and 2 will take place at Watopia, which will have some improvements to better resemble the French city of Nice (this year’s Grand Départ). The rest of the stages will take place in Zwift’s new maps of France and Paris, created just for the occasion. Zwifters will be able to access these new worlds for themselves after the end of the Virtual Tour of France. The Zwifters will also have the chance to hike the same three stages as the pros over the next three weekends, thanks to a virtual edition of the popular L’Etape du Tour. There will be 16 sessions for each stage of the Tour Stage.
The Virtual Tour of France will raise funds for six charities: Emmaüs, Secours Populaire, Jeugdfonds Sport and Cultuur, BiJeWa and Qhubeka.
Virtual Tour de France timetable
Step 1: July 4, Nice, 36.4 km (4 x 9.1 km, hilly stage)
2nd step: July 5, Nice, 29.5KM (682m elevation gain, mountain stage)
Stage 3: July 11, North-East of France, 48KM (flat scene)
Step 4: July 12, South-West of France, 45.8 km (2 laps of 22.9 km, hilly stage)
Step 5: July 18, Mont Ventoux, 22.9 km (arrival at Chalet-Reynard, mountain stage)
Step 6: July 19, Paris Champs-Elysées, 42.8KM (6 laps)
Virtual timetable of the Etape du Tour
2nd step: July 4 and 5, Nice, 29.5 km (682 m difference in altitude, mountain stage)
Step 4: July 11 and 12, South-West of France, 45.8 km (2 laps of 22.9 km, hilly stage)
Step 5: July 18 and 19, Mont Ventoux, 22.9 km (arrival at the observatory)
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