With the traditional Tour pushed back from its typical July slot to August 29, event organizers ASO have partnered with Zwift to launch a men’s and women’s Virtual Tour de France and three-day mass participation Etape du Tour.
The event will be marked by the addition of two new maps to the virtual platform – “France” and “Paris” – with virtual renditions of Mont Ventoux, the Champs Élysées, and Nice-inspired downtown settings all on tap.
“I cannot imagine the month of July without cycling,” said Tour director Christian Prudhomme. “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 pro race will take place over six stages, with men and women racing over identical courses set to take around one hour. Both the men’s and women’s events will be broadcast live. Racing will fall over three weekends: July 4-5, 11-12, and 18-19.
The event will include a GC format based on points rather than time. In a further change from the typical GC system, points will be allocated to teams rather than individuals, meaning riders can rotate between stages. However, the iconic yellow, green, white, and polka dot jerseys will all be up for grabs, with one rider per team able to wear the distinctive garments.
Full line-ups for the pro races are yet to be confirmed, but organizers have revealed that 23 men’s and 17 women’s pro teams will be participating, with Chris Froome, Marianne Vos, Geraint Thomas, Egan Bernal, Greg Van Avermaet and Anna Van der Breggen all doing battle in their respective races.
“There’s nothing bigger than the Tour de France in cycling, so to say I’m excited would be an understatement,” said 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.”
A three-stage Virtual l’Etape du Tour will also be available for the wider public on the same weekends as the pro racing. The event pays tribute to the long-running L’Etape du Tour de France gran fondo, which this year has been postponed.
The Virtual Tour is part of a “Tour de France United” initiative that will raise funds for five charities: Emmaüs, Secours Populaire, Jeugdfonds Sport and Cultuur, BiJeWa, and Qhubeka.
Virtual Tour de France stages:
- July 4, stage 1: Nice, 36.4 km (4 x 9.1 km, hilly stage)
- July 5, stage 2: Nice, 29.5 km (682 m of ascent, mountain stage)
- July 11, stage 3: North-East France, 48 km (flat stage)
- July 12, stage 4: South-West France, 45.8 km (2 x 22.9 km laps, hilly stage)
- July 18, stage 5: Mont Ventoux, 22.9 km (finish at Chalet-Reynard, mountain stage)
- July 19, stage 6: Paris Champs-Elysées, 42.8 km (6 laps of the circuit)
Virtual l’Etape du Tour de France stages
- July 4 and 5, Stage 1: Nice, 29.5 km (682 m of ascent, mountain stage)
- July 11 and 12, Stage 2: South-West France, 45.8 km (2 x 22.9 km laps, hilly stage)
- July 18 and 19, Stage 3: Mont Ventoux, (22.9 km, finishing at the observatory)
(Etape to take place over 16 sessions spread over each weekend.)