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Team Astana abandons Virtual Tour de France

Citing internet connectivity problems in two different locations, the team pulled out of the Zwift stage race to focus on preparations for the season restart.

Faced with ongoing technology concerns, Team Astana withdrew from the Virtual Tour de France following Saturday’s stage 3, won by Rally Cycling’s Matteo Dal-Cin.

The Dutch news service Wielerflits reported that Astana, which is on training camps in Livigno, Italy, and Sierra Nevada, Spain did not have reliable internet service from their hotels, and riders were not able to stay in the internet-connected virtual cycling event.

“We had serious problems with our internet connection in our hotel in the Sierra Nevada,” said Astana sports director Dmitriy Fofonov. “The technical possibilities here in the mountains are not good enough for the virtual competition.”

Team Astana riders who were based in Italy did not fare much better. The Astana sports director confirmed that Astana riders connecting from Italy were also experiencing similar problems.

“And we cannot participate today from Italy either, because the technical conditions at that training camp are also limited,” said Fofonov. “We would like to thank the organization of the race for the great support during these days as well as for the possibility to take part in this amazing sports event. It’s a great initiative, which allows all teams to feel the competition spirit again and to show the team colors. Now it is time for us to train on the road. We wish the other teams success and see you in Nice soon at the start of the real Tour de France.”

With mounting frustrations, the Kazakh-based team did not start Sunday’s stage 4, which was won by Freddy Ovett of Israel Start-Up Nation.

The Virtual Tour de France takes place in Zwift over six stages, with men and women racing on identical courses across three weekends: July 4-5, 11-12, and 18-19. Both the men’s and women’s events have been broadcast live

The event includes a GC format based on points rather than time. In a further change from the typical GC system, points are 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.