Some of the most iconic set-pieces of the Tour de France will be the digital backdrop for the first Virtual Tour de France, with all stages to be streamed on Cycling Central and the final two stages on SBS VICELAND.
By
SBS Cycling Central

2 Jul 2020 - 1:11 AM 

The effort is real, the sights are the same and the teams are lining up for the first virtual edition of the Tour de France, to be held during the dates the race was originally scheduled.

The main difference is that there's a lot more digital modelling and the riders will competing from their homes for charity rather than prizemoney.

The COVID-19 lockdown has seen a number of cycling events migrate to online platforms, with most greeted with appreciation by the cycling public. 

Apart from it being the e-racing debut of cycling’s prestige event, the Virtual Tour de France is historic for another big reason, as there will be a women’s race running concurrent to the men’s. 

Both will be contested along the same course, covering the same distance and receiving equal televised coverage.

While the real race is set to start on August 29, the Virtual Tour de France depart is just around the corner, with racing to start July 4. 

Six stages will be run, two per weekend with a mix of race routes to put an emphasis on the all-round abilities of each team.

In fact, each classification will be won by a team rather than an individual, no male riders are allowed to race more than 3 stages total, and no female riders are allowed to race more than 4 stages total.

While Zwift's signature power-ups will form part of the racing - and should prove to be key to the tactics of the event - other features, like better equipment unlocked from Zwift, will not be allowed.

In typical Zwift fashion, the racing will be kept to short stages, with the longest stage at just 48 kilometres.

Instead of prizemoney, teams will be racing for charity, with the 'Tour de France United' project focused on the donation of bikes to underprivileged communities taking centre stage. 

Tour de France United to provide bikes for disadvantaged communities
The organisers of the Tour de France have announced a charitable operation, Tour de France United, aimed at getting underprivileged and those without other options of transport a bicycle.

While it won't be the traditional Tour experience, it will have most of the big riders and turn the eyes of the cycling world once again to the battle for the maillot jaune.

Among the big names on the women’s side to be racing in July are cycling great Marianne Vos, World Time Trial Champion Chloe Dygert, Olympic gold medallist Anna van der Breggen and powerhouse sprinter Kirsten Wild.

In the men’s field, confirmed starters include the Tour-winning Team Ineos trident of Egan Bernal, Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas, as well as Olympic gold medallist Greg van Avermaet.

“I cannot imagine the month of July without cycling,” said Christian Prudhomme, Director of the Tour de France.

"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 Tour Virtuel puts technology to work for passion and the cause of cycling for everyone.”

Tour Virtuel Stages

Saturday 4th July, Stage 1: Nice, 36.4 km (4 x 9.1 km, hilly stage) – Watopia Hilly Route (Reverse)

- LIVE streaming - 23:00 - 01:00 (AEST) - via SBS On Demand and Cycling Central. Women's race to be followed by men's.

Sunday 5th July, Stage 2: Nice, 29.5 km (682 m of ascent, mountain stage) – Watopia Mountain Route

- LIVE streaming - 23:00 - 01:00 (AEST) via SBS On Demand and Cycling Central. Women's race to be followed by men's.

Saturday 11th July, Stage 3: North-East France, 48 km (2 x 24 km laps, flat stage) – France R.G.V. Route

LIVE streaming - 23:00 - 01:00 (AEST) - via SBS On Demand and Cycling Central

Sunday 12th July, Stage 4: South-West France, 45.8 km (2 x 22.9 km laps, hilly stage) – France Casse-Pattes Route

LIVE streaming - 23:00 - 01:00 (AEST) - via SBS On Demand and Cycling Central

Saturday 18th July, Stage 5: Mont Ventoux, 22.8 km (finish at Chalet-Reynard, mountain stage) – France La Reine Route

- LIVE on SBS VICELAND and live streaming - 23:00 - 01:00 (AEST) - via SBS On Demand and Cycling Central

Sunday 19th July, Stage 6: Paris Champs-Elysées, 42.8 km (6 laps of the circuit) – Paris Champs-Elysées Route

LIVE on SBS VICELAND and live streaming - 23:00 - 01:00 (AEST)  - via SBS On Demand and Cycling Central