Racing returns this July with the first Virtual Tour de France on the online training and racing platform, Zwift. Starting on Saturday, July 4th, the Virtual Tour de France is to form a part of the Tour de France United, a charity initiative in celebration of the Tour de France that will run until the conclusion of the rescheduled Tour de France the 29th of August.
Designed to deliver the best virtual racing experience for both competitors and viewers, the Virtual Tour de France will be held over six stages, each around an hour in duration. Racing will commence with the first women’s stage, followed immediately by the men. Stages for both races are held on identical courses and over the same distance. Both events will receive equal broadcast coverage in 130 countries around the world.
The stages of the Virtual Tour de France will provide opportunities for all types of rider. Stages 1 and 2 will be held on Zwift’s biggest map, the fantasy volcanic island of Watopia. For the Tour de France, Watopia will receive several visual additions inspired by Nice, the planned host town for this year’s ‘Grand Départ’. Stages 3, 4 and 5 will be held on an entirely new French map designed specifically for the Virtual Tour de France. Stage 5 is marked as the Queen Stage, and one for the climbers, with a summit finish at Chalet Reynard. Stage 6 will see the racers take to the iconic Champs-Élysées, finishing in front of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.
Yann Le Moënner, A.S.O. General Manager says: “Our joint project with cycling teams, Zwift, charities, official partners and broadcasters of the Tour de France is all about leveraging the newest esport technologies to put the spotlight on the champions who were supposed to ride the Tour de France in July, as well as setting up a major solidarity project combining its mission to promote mobility through cycling and fight against the social consequences of COVID 19 across the world”.
“I cannot imagine the month of July without cycling,” adds Christian Prudhomme, Director of the Tour de France. “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 Virtual Tour de France puts technology to work for passion and the cause of cycling for everyone.”
The Virtual Tour de France wouldn’t be the same without the famous Yellow, Green, Polka-dot and White jerseys held by the leaders of the race. Standings for all jerseys will be calculated using a points-based system. The best overall team will be calculated by combining the total points earned across all competitions. In addition, each stage will also see a rider awarded the Most Aggressive rider.
“There’s nothing bigger than the Tour de France in cycling, so to say I’m excited would be an understatement”, says Eric Min, Zwift CEO and Co-Founder. “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’Étape du Tour de France rides as well!”
Taking place on the same three weekends that will see the professional riders in action, will be the Virtual l’Étape du Tour de France series. L’Étape du Tour de France provides cyclists with the opportunity to get a slice of the Tour de France experience through a mass participation cyclo-sportive held on one of the Tour de France mountain stages. The Virtual l’Étape du Tour de France will be no different, allowing participants to test themselves on the same roads as the professionals. There will be three different stages, held over each of the three weekends in July. More information on the stages, and how to sign up can be found here.
Both the France and Paris maps have been designed specifically for the Virtual Tour de France. The French map takes inspiration from the country and should evoke strong connections with the country as Zwifters pass through vineyards, over Roman aqueducts and through Sunflower fields. The new map also contains a virtual representation of famous mountain passes.
The Paris map is a smaller world, taking in the finishing circuit we’ve all come to associate with the final stage of the Tour de France. Zwifters will be able to ride around the famed Arc de Triomphe, navigate around the Place de la Concorde and sprint down the cobbled Champs-Élysées just like the best sprinters of the Tour de France. Zwifters will be able to join events on the new maps during the Virtual Tour de France.
The distinctive jerseys
Like the real-life Tour de France, the distinctive jerseys will be awarded to the leaders of the general classification (based on points rather than on time), best climber classification, best sprinter classification and best young rider classification (again, based on points rather than on time). Unique to the Virtual Tour de France, all classifications will be run as team-based classifications, therefore, allowing teams to rotate riders between stages. All riders in the race will be eligible to score points for their team in each of the respective categories. The teams leading the classifications will have the freedom to nominate one rider to wear the iconic jerseys for the following stage.
The 6 stages of the Virtual Tour de France
Saturday 4th July, stage 1: Nice, 36.4 km (4 x 9.1 km, hilly stage)
Sunday 5th July, stage 2: Nice, 29.5 km (682 m of ascent, mountain stage)
Saturday 11th July, stage 3: North-East France, 48 km (flat stage)
Sunday 12th July, stage 4: South-West France, 45.8 km (2 x 22.9 km laps, hilly stage)
Saturday 18th July, stage 5: Mountain stage, 22.9 km (finish at Chalet-Reynard)
Sunday 19th July, stage 6: Paris Champs-Elysées, 42.8 km (6 laps of the circuit)
The 3 stages of the Virtual l’Étape du Tour de France (16 sessions spread over each weekend)
4th and 5th July, Stage 1: Nice, 29.5 km (682 m of ascent, mountain stage)
11th and 12th July, Stage 2: South-West France, 45.8 km (2 x 22.9 km laps, hilly stage)
18th and 19th July, Stage 3: Mountain stage, 22.9 km (finish at Chalet-Reynard)
More information about the Virtual Tour de France on www.letour.fr