What is the virtual Tour de France?

Professional male and female cyclists are currently competing in a virtual race with six stages, prior to the real-life Tour de France, which is scheduled to start later this summer.

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The virtual Tour de France is run by event organiser ASO and virtual cycling platform Zwift.

In the virtual event, professional cyclists compete against each other, riding on stationary bikes attached to technology that measures their output.

As they race, an avatar of each rider is simulated into a computer-generated environment, some of which resemble the real terrain they would encounter while riding in the Tour de France.

The real-life Tour de France would normally have started on June 29, but was postponed due to the Covid-19 health crisis.

The 2020 race will now go ahead in August, beginning on Saturday 29 in Nice (Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur).

Read more: Delayed Tour de France 2020 sets out new health measures

Second virtual stage already complete

The second stage of the virtual tour was completed on Sunday, July 5. Cyclists rode through the virtual “Watopia Mountain Route” for 29.5 km.

In the men’s virtual race, the winner of the second stage was French cyclist Julien Bernard racing for Trek - Segafredo.

In the women’s virtual race, American Lauren Stephens won the second stage, racing for Team Tibico - Silicon Valley Bank.

Leaders in the virtual Tour de France races are awarded traditional yellow, green and polka dot jerseys for their avatars to wear.

Male and female athletes

Both male and female athletes are competing in the virtual Tour de France, while in the real-life event only male cyclists participate.

There are 23 men's teams and nine women’s teams competing in the virtual race.

Amateur cyclists can also complete their own version of the virtual Tour de France. By signing up to Zwift’s platform, they gain access to the same virtual routes the professionals have ridden in the virtual tour.

Four remaining stages

Viewers can watch the four remaining stages of the virtual Tour de France online on Zwift’s website. The race is also being televised on FranceTVSport (France), Eurosport and GNC (UK), and NBCSN (US).

The four remaining stages are:

Stage 3: Saturday, July 11

The R.G.V. route (48km) will take riders through mainly flat French countryside.

Stage 4: Sunday, July 12

Casse-Pattes (45.8km) begins as a flat route, followed by a climb, and a long ascent before the finish.

Stage 5: Saturday, July 18

The La Reine route (22.9km) begins with a flat section followed by a climb through the lower slopes of Mont Ventoux (Occitanie).

Stage 6: Sunday July 19

The Champs Élysées virtual route (42.8km) replicates the traditional end to the Tour de France, finishing in Paris (Ile-de-France) at the Arc de Triomphe.

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