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Zwift launches official virtual Tour de France and L'Etape du Tour

Joe Robinson
29 Jun 2020

Pro race and amateur sportive to use new Champs-Élysées and Mont Ventoux Zwift maps

If the actual Tour de France and L'Etape du Tour sportive do not take place later this summer, then we may have to settle for Zwift's virtual alternative

The online training platform will host the first six-stage official virtual Tour de France, for the men's and women's professional pelotons, as well as a three-stage virtual L'Etape du Tour sportive, incorporating two new Tour de France-inspired maps.

The first official virtual Tour will see 23 men's teams and 17 women's teams take on six identical courses over three weekends starting on Saturday 4th July with equal television coverage for both races.

Already signed up to ride the men's event are Team Ineos's Tour de France-winning trio Chris Froome, Geraint Thomas and Egan Bernal, while Marianne Vos and Anna Van Der Breggen will form part of the women's peloton.

Each race will also hand out the iconic jerseys of the Tour, including the yellow jersey, but as both races will be run on team-based classifications, allowing teams to rotate riders dependant on the terrain at hand, it will be the leading team that decides who gets to wear the jersey. 

Alongside the professional races, regular Zwift users will also be able to take part in the virtual three-stage L'Etape du Tour over the same three weekends.

For the event, Zwift will also be launching two new maps inspired by the French Grand Tour.

The 'French' map will include rolling countryside, sunflower fields and Roman aqueducts but, most importantly, a virtual replica of the legendary Mont Ventoux, set to be called Mont Ven-Top.

Tracing the same 7.5% gradient for 21.4km, it will be used as a summit finish for both virtual races before becoming accessible to Zwift users.

The 'Paris' map will retrace the iconic Champs-Élysées circuit used on the final stage of the actual race, including the loop around the Arc de Triomphe, tunnel underneath the Louvre and cobbled sprint finish. 

Temporary adjustments will also be made to the existing 'Watopia' to reflect the Grand Depart that was scheduled to take place in Nice last weekend. 

Both the races and sportive will also form part of 'Tour de France United' initiative looking to raise funds for five cycling charities: Emmaüs, Secours Populaire, Jeugdfonds Sport and Cultuur, BiJeWa and Qhubeka. 

Organiser of the Tour, Christian Prudhomme, hopes that this virtual alternative to regular racing will help to fill the void of the actual thing throughout July.

'I cannot imagine the month of July without cycling. 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 29th August,' said Prudhomme.

'The Tour Virtuel puts technology to work for passion and the cause of cycling for everyone.'

Zwift CEO Eric Min added that while he realises the virtual race cannot replace the real thing, holding the biggest race in the calendar on its app is an exciting prospect.

'Since I was a boy, I would always be glued in front of the TV for three weeks in July, so I feel incredibly privileged for Zwift to be able to play host to the first virtual edition this year,' said Min.

'Of course, we all very much look forward to the race returning this August, but the good news is there will still be racing in July. The Virtual Tour de France will be a celebration of the event featuring the stars of the men’s and women’s pro pelotons, all in aid of five great causes.

'Let’s also not forget, there is a great chance to take part through the Virtual l’Etape du Tour de France rides as well!'

Interested in getting Zwift? Try a three-month membership card here

We also have a guide to the best Zwift-compatible turbo trainers that are still in stock here

The six stages of the Virtual Tour de France

Saturday 4th July, Stage 1: Nice, 36.4 km (4 x 9.1 km, hilly stage) 
Sunday 5th July, Stage 2: Nice, 29.5 km (682 m of ascent, mountain stage)  
Saturday 11th July, Stage 3: North-East France, 48 km (flat stage)  
Sunday 12th July, Stage 4: South-West France, 45.8 km (2 x 22.9 km laps, hilly stage)  
Saturday 18th July, Stage 5: Mont Ventoux, 22.9 km (finish at Chalet-Reynard, mountain stage)  
Sunday 19th July, Stage 6: Paris Champs-Elysées, 42.8 km (6 laps of the circuit)

The three stages of the Virtual l’Etape du Tour de France (16 sessions spread over each weekend)

4th and 5th July, Stage 1: Nice, 29.5 km (682 m of ascent, mountain stage)  
11th and 12th July, Stage 2: South-West France, 45.8 km (2 x 22.9 km laps, hilly stage)  
18th and 19th July, Stage 3: Mont Ventoux, (22.9 km, finishing at the observatory)