Cycling enthusiasts don’t know any better: July is Tour month. But not this year. The reason is well known: the corona crisis also paralyzed the cycling season. The start of the 107th Tour de France is now scheduled for August 29.
Still, the fans don’t have to stare restlessly in front of them in July. Online training and racing platform Zwift is launching a virtual edition of the Tour de France in collaboration with Tour organizer ASO.
The six stages, spread over three weekends, will be broadcast in some 130 countries. Short summaries will be available at the NOS. The proceeds go to five charities.
No fewer than 23 men’s teams and 17 women’s teams have pledged their participation and it is already certain that Team Ineos will appeal to former Tour winners Chris Froome (2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017), Geraint Thomas (2018) and others. Egan Bernal (2019).
Among the women will be Anna van der Breggen, Marianne Vos, Kirsten Wild and world champion time trial Chloé Dygert-Owen.
The stages, the first two of which take place on July 4 and 5 on Zwift’s fantasy island of Watopia, will take about an hour. Each team appears with four riders at the start, but that does not have to be the same drivers every stage. Therefore, specialists can be deployed, responding to the course ahead.
The general classification is not based on time differences, but on the basis of a point system. Moreover, it is not an individual ranking, but a team classification. The leading team may appoint the wearer of the yellow jersey.
The same applies to the mountain (polka dot jersey), sprint (green jersey) and youth classification (white jersey). After each ride there is also a prize for the most combative rider of the day.
Most striking is the closing weekend with a mountain stage on Saturday, July 18, with the finish at Chalet Reynard, six kilometers below the top of Mont Ventoux. On Sunday, of course, the line is on the Champs-Élysées in Paris.
Christian Prudhomme, director of the Société du Tour de France, is happy with the initiative. “I can’t imagine the month of July without cycling. Thanks to the Virtual Tour de France, the champions and their fans will be able to fill the void that has arisen. Thanks to the technology now being used for the passion for cycling.”