Virtual Tour de France to take place in July ahead of rescheduled real-life event

Professional cyclists will take part in a Virtual Tour de France throughout July after the real-life race was postponed amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Tour, cycling’s biggest event of the year, was originally due to take place in July, but has been rescheduled for a 29 August start date.

In May, French sports minister Roxana Maracineanu admitted that the race might not even go ahead across the new dates, though the situation seems more positive now, with France having eased its lockdown.

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Regardless of when the actual race takes place, a virtual equivalent will be held across three weekends in July, it was revealed this week.

Start-up Zwift will host the six-stage event, which begins on 4 July.

Each stage will take approximately one hour to complete. Men and women will race separately as they would in the real Tour, but they will compete on identical courses.

The first two stages will take place in the fictional environment of Watopia, which will feature “several visual additions” inspired by Nice, the French town that hosts one of the real race’s legs.

A France map created specifically for the virtual Tour will follow, then the final stage will mirror the real-life event with a Paris circuit.

Twenty-three men’s teams have signed up for the event, with reigning champion Egan Bernal and former winners Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome set to be involved. Meanwhile, the women’s race will feature 17 professional teams; star of the sport Marianne Vos will compete, as will Olympic gold medallist Anna van der Breggen.

The virtual Tour will also have an event for amateurs.

Zwift offers an app with virtual avatars and worlds for cyclists, runners and triathletes to explore using their personal treadmills and bike trainers.

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