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Virtual Tour de France rolls out this weekend

Van der Poel, Dygert, Van Avermaet among starters for stage 1, Saturday.

The Virtual Tour de France opens up Saturday with a host of top male and female pros set to challenge for the yellow jersey in a series of Zwift races.

While July 4 should have marked stage 8 of the traditional Tour de France, the coronavirus put that on pause, pushing the race back to August 29. In its absence, the world’s best male and female racers will be getting atop their indoor trainers to start the first-ever Virtual Tour de France.

23 pro men’s and 17 pro women’s teams will take part, including all the major names from the WorldTour and Women’s WorldTour. American squads Rally Cycling, Team Twenty20 and Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank will also be racing.

Mathieu van der Poel, Chloe Dygert, Greg Van Avermaet, Mads Pedersen and Elisa Longo Borghini are all slated to be racing the opening stage Saturday, a 36.4km hilly loop in Watopia.

The six-stage race will see both men and women racing on the same parcours in consecutive races across three weekends. The opening weekend will see the peloton taking on routes from Zwift’s marquee Watopia world, with stages 3 – 6 playing out in the online platform’s new ‘France’ and ‘Paris’ environments. The final weekend will include both a summit finish on “Ven Top,” Zwift’s rendition of Mont Ventoux, and a circuit race around the Champs-Élysées.

While the race will include the iconic yellow, white, green and polka dot jerseys, the classification will be based on team performances rather than individuals. Each team will be able to rotate its riders every stage.

In North America, FloBikes and NBC Sport Gold will be broadcasting the racing live. Other networks set to show the stages include Zwift, Eurosport and GCN. A full list of broadcasters can be found here.

Stage 1 will start at 1400 BST / 0900 ET.

Virtual Tour de France Stages

Stage 1: July 5 – Watopia Hilly Route
Stage 2: July 6 – Watopia Mountain
Stage 3: July 11 – A first look at the new ‘France’ World
Stage 4: July 12 – Another look at ‘France’
Stage 5: July 18 – Mountain stage atop Zwift’s own Mont Ventoux
Stage 6: July 19 – The iconic Champs Élysées for the final stage