Just because professional cyclists are unable to take to the streets for this year's Women's Tour, it doesn't mean they won't be competing. This year, it's going virtual with the organisers taking it online through the creation of the ŠKODA V-SERIES Women’s Tour.
The new, three-stage virtual race includes two classic routes from previous editions of the cycling race and the public will be able to watch the action from the races on BBC Sport or BBC Player and live on YouTube. Cycling fans can even compete in the race themselves through paying a donation to charities Breast Cancer Now and Mind.
The races will work by riders setting up their bikes indoors and using software from RGT Cycling called "Magic Roads". The programme allows the event organisers to create routes which mimic real roads, complete with challenging hills and iconic sights.
The first stage will be a sprint stage from the 2014 edition of the Women's Tour that finished in Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk. For the second, the competitors from the sport's leading cycling teams will race on a route replicating the final route from 2019's race including a hill-top finish in Warwickshire. Finally, they will compete across 35 laps of a one-kilometre circuit in Canary Wharf.
At a time when the women's sporting calendar is looking increasingly empty, this virtual Women's Tour will bring some much-longed-for action to our screens. In fact, this is an example of a company creating a virtual event for women before the men.
Following the race announcement, the partnerships director for company SweetSpot who organise the Women's Tour said: "We have been working with RGT Cycling since 2019 to develop a virtual version of one of our events to bring the race and athletes to a new audience, and as one of the jewels in the crown of SweetSpot's portfolio of events it is great that the Women's Tour has become the first with which we can do that.
"As soon as the COVID-19 situation hit and we were forced to postpone the Women's Tour in March, we accelerated those plans and have worked tirelessly as a team to bring the inaugural ŠKODA V-SERIES Women’s Tour to fruition. eSports are an important and growing area of both the sporting landscape and in the arena of professional cycling and we look forward to bringing our event to screens around the world on 17 June."
The ŠKODA V-SERIES Women’s Tour will take place between the 17 and 19 June and BBC coverage will feature commentary from the Women's Tour commentators including Olympic Champion Joanna Rowsell Shand. Each professional team will field three riders.
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