Virtual tournament ‘Challenge of Stars’ to pit pros head-to-head

Van der Poel, Nibali, Pedersen and Ewan all due to take part in knock out virtual tournament

RCS Sport, organizers of the Giro d’Italia, Milano-Sanremo, Strade Bianche and the recent virtual Giro d’Italia, have created a unique knockout tournament featuring 16 top pros.

The ‘Challenge of Stars’, May 23 and 24, will see Mathieu van der Poel, Vincenzo Nibali, Caleb Ewan, and world champion Mads Pedersen line up for head-to-head races hosted on virtual platform BKOOL.

The ‘Challenge of Stars’ will differ from the typical mass-start format of Zwift events, and will instead have eight sprinters and eight climbers “face off in knockout challenges to reveal who is the strongest in their respective categories.” Racing will take place on simulations of the Stelvio and Tuscan countryside.

All rounds of the competition will be streamed live on the event’s social media channels, with participating riders also due to document their efforts on their own Instagram profiles.

“In this period, being unable to carry out road races outdoors led us to think of new ways to organize cycling races; this is how the Milano-Sanremo virtual experience and the virtual Giro d’Italia were born,” said Paolo Bellino, CEO and General Manager of RCS Sport.

“The next step was to devise a unique, innovative and engaging format, ‘The Challenge of Stars’,” Bellino said in a press release. “It’s an event with great television potential that will enable all fans, also thanks to the BKOOL platform, to live a true professional cycling experience and will enable top riders to compete in unprecedented challenges on this new terrain.”

Riders currently on the start sheet include:


  • Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe)
  • Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo)
  • Nacer Bouhanni (Team Arkéa Samsic)
  • Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix)
  • Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck – Quick Step)
  • Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal)
  • Matteo Trentin (CCC Team)


  • Rafał Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe)
  • Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segafredo)
  • Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo)
  • Warren Barguil (Team Arkéa Samsic)
  • Jakob Fuglsang (Astana Pro Team)
  • Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal)
  • Simon Geschke (CCC Team)