Virtual Tour De France Allows Elite Women Cyclists to Compete in Famous Race, Before 2022 Start Line
Across the West, it’s pretty normal for people to find olympic and major sporting events available to both men and women—with some female competitions like the UFC Women’s divisions, the tennis “Grand Slams” or the FIFA Women’s World Cup attracting just as much interest as their male equivalent.
But for female cyclists, the most prestigious of all competitions—the Tour de France—has for 100 years been open only to male competitors, with the only female equivalent, the “course d’un jour” being a much more modest event.
This year, however, as the actual Tour de France begins in Nice, France, after having been delayed due to Covid-19, a virtual version that will allow female competitors to ride a stationary bike on a Virtual Reality route of the actual race, will have just concluded under shadows of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.
The online virtual bike training platform Zwift, together with Tour organizers Amaury Sports Organization (ASO), have designed a course where the elite female riders will be spread across 40 teams to complete 6-hour-stages over the course of three weekends.
The race will feature world-class cyclists like Marianne Vos from the Netherlands, and the USA’s world time-trial champion Chloe Dygert. Cycling enthusiasts across 130 countries now have the opportunity to watch together online as the virtual avatars of the riders compete in the famous race, throughout the weeks with Stage 6 ending July 19. Stage 3 will be run tomorrow, July 11.
The ASO has already committed to a full, rubber-on-road, 3-week women’s Tour de France by 2022, and next year they plan to expand the virtual competition to consist of stages mirroring the entire real-world race.
Zwift CEO Eric Min told the Telegraph that “ASO has already made a commitment for a women’s race as early as 2022 and we see this [virtual race] as an opportunity to accelerate that journey.”