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Virtual Tour de France: Rally Cycling snatches men’s sprint; Dygert denied in final kick

Zwift experience and expertise pays off for stage 3 winners Matteo Dal-Cin and Tanja Erath.

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Matteo Dal-Cin (Rally Cycling) and Tanja Erath (Canyon-SRAM) took sprint wins at stage 3 of the Virtual Tour de France, Saturday.

Dal-Cin edged out Jake Stewart (Groupama-FDJ) and Callum Scotson (Mitchelton-Scott) to take Rally Cycling’s first stage win of the race and consolidate their second-place slot on GC behind leaders NTT Pro Cycling. In the women’s race, former Zwift Academy winner Erath edged out American star Chloe Dygert (Twenty20) and April Tacey (Drops).

The stage was the first on Zwift‘s new R.G.V route, a flat 48-kilometer course through French countryside featuring a virtual take on the iconic Pont du Gard aqueduct.

Both races came down to milliseconds in the final bunch kick, with positioning, timing, and experience playing a key role for both Dal-Cin and Erath.

“That felt fantastic and awful at the same time,” said Dal-Cin of his victory. “I made a big effort to get in position before the final corners and started sprinting before I could see the line. I’m really proud to deliver this win for the team.”

Rally Cycling has been working closely with top-ranked Zwift racer Holden Comeau in its preparations for the six-stage event, tapping the Team Saris + The Pro’s Closet rider’s understanding of the strategies and in-game tactics required to better more powerful WorldTour riders. Former Canadian champion Dal-Cin attributed his victory to Comeau’s oversight.

“Holden and his team have been amazing, sharing so many little things that would take forever to learn on our own,” Dal-Cin said. “In our pre-race call, Holden told us when to get [into a] good position and where to open our sprint. I waited for the final 300 meters to go to use my aero power-up and gave it everything I had until the end.”

Experience and expertise also played a role in Erath’s win. Although the 30-year-old German rider turned pro with Canyon-SRAM having won the 2017 Zwift Academy, she professed that she had only recently gained experience e-racing, with her team putting in big miles and keeping riders sharp through the coronavirus lockdown on the platform. Just this week, she had ridden over 250 kilometers on Zwift.

“I started speeding up around 290m to go, and I was all out and used my power up from 200m to go,” Erath said. “I raced a lot the last month on Zwift and it really helped me to stay focused, motivated, and not only maintain fitness but increase my fitness a lot.”

“It’s like in a normal bike race, it’s a lot about positioning and timing, and we’ve raced a lot on Zwift in the last few months, I could really see my knowledge increasing and improving, it’s really good to have the knowledge to do well in a race.

Although Tibco-Silicon Valley’s highest place finisher on the race was Kristen Faulkner, fifth, the American team retain their place on the top of GC, with Canyon-SRAM chasing behind.

Racing resumes Sunday on the mountainous Casse Pattes course.

Men’s stage 3 results

  1. Matteo Dal-Cin (Rally Cycling) – 0:59:24
  2. Jake Stewart (Groupama-FDJ) – S.T.
  3. Callum Scotson (Mitchelton-Scott) – S.T

Men’s GC after stage 3

  1. NTT Pro Cycling – 193
  2. Rally Cycling – 156
  3. Trek-Segafredo – 127

Women’s stage 3 results

  1. Tanja Erath (Canyon-SRAM) – 1:06:24
  2. Chloe Dygert (Team Twenty20) – S.T.
  3. April Tacey (Drops) – S.T.

Women’s GC after stage 3

  1. Tibco-Silicon Valley – 197
  2. Canyon-SRAM – 174
  3. Drops – 150