It’s official: the world’s first Virtual Tour de France will be held on Zwift, beginning this weekend!
In some ways, this event looks like the traditional TdF: most of the same teams and riders, broadcast on the same networks, competing in July on French roads for iconic leader jerseys. In other ways, it will be completely different: all the racing will be done on indoor trainers, after all! Plus there are only six stages, with smaller teams, and riders are competing for charity instead of a prize purse.
This is truly a Zwifty celebration of the TdF, and that is exactly what it should be. Let’s look at the details of the world’s first virtual Tour de France, including the Virtual l’Etape du Tour, where all Zwifters can ride stages on Zwift’s just-released France and Paris maps.
New Zwift Maps
The Zwift community has been abuzz with news of new virtual tarmac to ride thanks to two new maps built specifically for the virtual TdF. We are still putting together the details of the new routes, but here are some screenshots and other teasers released today by Zwift.
According to Zwift, “The French map takes inspiration from the country and should evoke strong connections with the country as Zwifters pass through vineyards, over Roman aqueducts, and through sunflower fields. The new map also plays host to a virtual replica of Mont Ventoux. Zwift’s Mont Ven-Top, meaning snowy peak in gallic, is a punishing climb that is sure to test the legs of any rider.”
The Paris map is much smaller than the France map, “taking in the finishing circuit we’ve all come to associate with the final stage of the Tour de France. Zwifters will be able to ride around the famed Arc de Triomphe, navigate around the Place de la Concorde and sprint down the cobbled Champs-Élysées just like the best sprinters of the Tour de France. Zwifters will be able to join events on the new maps during the Virtual Tour de France.”
Virtual Tour de France Stage Details
The pros will be racing on Saturday and Sunday for three consecutive weekends beginning July 4th. In contrast to the TdF’s grueling 21-day schedule of long daily events, the virtual TdF races are meant to “deliver the best virtual racing experience for both competitors and viewers,” so each stage is only about an hour long.
Every stage is designed to mimic iconic portions of La Grande Boucle. Here is the schedule as we know it (we will update with additional links once route details for the new Paris and France maps are published):
- Saturday 4th July, Stage 1: Nice, 36.4 km (4 x 9.1 km, hilly stage) – Watopia Hilly Route (Reverse) – Watch Highlights
- Sunday 5th July, Stage 2: Nice, 29.5 km (682 m of ascent, mountain stage) – Watopia Mountain Route – Watch Highlights
- Saturday 11th July, Stage 3: North-East France, 48 km (2 x 24 km laps, flat stage) – France R.G.V. Route – Watch Highlights
- Sunday 12th July, Stage 4: South-West France, 45.8 km (2 x 22.9 km laps, hilly stage) – France Casse-Pattes Route – Watch Highlights
- Saturday 18th July, Stage 5: Mont Ventoux, 22.8 km (finish at Chalet-Reynard, mountain stage) – France La Reine Route – Watch Highlights
- Sunday 19th July, Stage 6: Paris Champs-Elysées, 42.8 km (6 laps of the circuit) – Paris Champs-Elysées Route – Watch Highlights
Gender parity is a hot-button issue in pro cycling, and the virtual TdF is clearly planned to delivery equal coverage and competition for both men’s and women’s teams. In fact, the women will kick off the virtual TdF by racing first on July 4th, followed immediately by the men!
Men’s and women’s stages will be held on identical courses over the same distances, and both events will receive equal broadcast coverage.
Pro Team Participation
The world’s top cycling teams will be lining up to battle it out in the virtual TdF. For each stage, teams will select four riders to compete. Riders can be rotated in and out for different stages, so we will certainly see a variety of top pros taking parts on routes that best suite their strengths.
Confirmed teams for the virtual TdF include:
AG2R La Mondiale
Astana Pro Team
B&B Hotels-Vital Concept
Team Bahrain McLaren
Deceuninck – Quick-Step
EF Education First Pro Cycling
Israel Start-Up Nation
NTT Pro Cycling
TOTAL Direct Énergie
Alé BTC Ljubljana
Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team
Ceratizit – WNT Pro Cycling
FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope
Lotto Soudal Ladies
TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank
TWENTY20 Pro Cycling
Valcar Travel & Service
Confirmed riders from Zwift’s press release include the past three winners of the TdF (Chris Froome, Geraint Thomas, Egan Bernal) plus Greg Van Avermaet and other top pros for the men’s race. Marianne Vos, Chloé Dygert Owen, Kirsten Wild, and Anna Van der Breggen are among the big names confirmed for the women’s race.
In an interesting twist, DC Rainmaker did a little digging and learned that no male riders are allowed to race more than 3 stages total, and no female riders are allowed to race more than 4 stages total. This makes it even more of a team event since no single rider will be able to dominate the series.
Anyone who follows Le Tour knows about the “race within the race.” That is, there are multiple classifications or competitions happening concurrently during and across all stages. The virtual TdF will be similar, but competition will be entirely points-based. During each stage, riders will score points on specific climbs, sprints, and across the finish line. These points will be totaled on a team basis and used to designate a leading team in each classification:
- Best Sprinter classification (green jersey): for the team holding the most sprint points
- Best Climber classification (polka dot jersey): for the team holding the most KOM points
- General Classification (yellow jersey): for the team holding the most points overall
The teams leading each of these classifications will choose one rider on the day to wear the classification’s leader jersey.
Each stage will also see a rider awarded the Most Aggressive rider award, sponsored by Antargaz. A Best Young Rider classification (white jersey) will be awarded to the rider with the most points under 25 years old.
Current Standings: Women / Men
Keeping It Simple
Since this is a charity event, anti-cheating controls are being kept to a minimum. Zwift says that pre-race validation checks will be done to ensure accurate equipment and rider weights. No post-race performance verifications will be done.
Where to Watch
The virtual TdF will be broadcast to over 130 countries, with broadcasts taking place every Saturday and Sunday, July 4-19, from 3pm-5pm CET (9am-11am EDT/6am-8am PDT).
- Worldwide: GCN App, Zwift.com
Highlights will be available on Zwift’s YouTube channel after each stage.
Virtual L’Etape du Tour de France
Each year, L’Etape du Tour de France provides cyclists with the opportunity to get a slice of the Tour de France experience through a mass participation cyclo-sportive held on one of the Tour de France mountain stages. The Virtual l’Etape du Tour de France will be no different, allowing participants to test themselves on the same roads as the professionals!
Want to ride Zwift’s new French roads as soon as possible? There will be “Virtual Tour de France Discovery Rides” where you can ride the exact stage the pros raced the weekend before. See this ZwiftHacks search for a list of upcoming Discovery Rides (more will be added soon).
It appears that Sunday, July 12th, will see the first Discovery Rides events on the France map (for stages 3 and 4).
“Tour de France United” Charity Initiative
The virtual TdF kicks off a charity initiative in celebration of the Tour de France that will run until the conclusion of the rescheduled Tour de France in August. Called “Tour de France United”, the initiative has been created to raise funds for five charity partners: Emmaüs, Secours Populaire, Jeugdfonds Sport and Cultuur, BiJeVa, and Qhubeka.
Questions or Comments?
Share below! We’ll do our best to answer questions and comments as more information is released in the coming days.
I cant wait to watch
That is awesome! Looking forward to it, will be a blast 🙂
Confused about the Ventoux stage. For the virtual Tour, you say the stage finishes at Chalet Reynard. For the Etape, you say it finishes at the Observatory (also pictured), but both routes have identical length…
btw, the picture is also odd – if the ascent is from Bedoin / Chalet Reynard, then the observatory would be on the riders’ lefthand side at the summit.
Having ridden it in real life I can say that it is very definitely on the right as you ride up
its on your right/straight ahead the whole way from Chalet Reynard, apart for the last 200m after you swing hard right to the finish line. When you crest the summit as in the picture its on your left – the layby and look out is on your right where you can look down on the road youve ridden up.
guess it depends on where they put the banner cos doesn’t the road hairpin back on itself just before the top
Looks like they’ve chopped off the sharp right at the end. Probably aesthetics. They butchered the Alpe summit after all. 🙂
@owain the 5th stage would actually probably be La Reine, which terminates at Chalet Renard. But feels very strange that the Pro’s will so the “half route”of La Reine, insted of doing the full Ven-Top clim, which terminates at the top.
Also because doing Ven-Top and stopping at Chalet Renard means doing just 9km, and that’s really unlikely… see here: https://whatsonzwift.com/world/france/route/ven-top/
Wait, if that WhatsOnZwift’s map is real, why the heck would they put Ventoux in New Caledonia? Serious…
Looking at the routes and checking against veloviewer I think the La Reine route is the one from Bedoin to Chalet reynard. Ven-top starts about 5k from Bedoin and goes to the observatory. Bit of confusion on whatsonzwift routes as well with the ascents. It’ll get cleared up no doubt.
I was told by HQ that that Pros were stopping at Chalet Reynard in order to keep the stage short and interesting… while normal Zwifters get to do the whole climb for l’Etape. It’s still not clear if that’s the case, but that’s what I was told last week!
Start pens to Chalet Reynard is 14.9km and 1100m of climbing, FYI. No small ride!
Eric, they will do La Reine route (which is a event-only route), correctly stopping at Chalet Renard, and not Ven-Top route. Here’s official confirmation of La Reine: https://www.zwift.com/eu/virtual-tour-de-france/vtdf-stage5
What’s confusing? If they end in different places on the same road but have the same length that just means they start in different places, too.
There’s a banner at the Chalet, as well as the banner at the Observatory.
Stage 1 and 2 are in Watopia? Hardly an attention getter.
I thought I read that the first stage would be “Watopia – France Edition” … does that mean it is the same route but the decor is changed (e.g. TdF banners)?
Did the real Mt Ventoux in July 2013… can’t wait to compare the virtual one!
Quite simply.. This looks amazing!
Is it just me, or are these Pro events really short? 48 km (flat stage) being the longest (and this is the same case with previous “Pro” events). This is nothing for this men and women. Barely have to roll out of bed.
Would like to see in the future some longer races that would more closely represent what they’d really have to do outside, added to Zwift
Easier to organize, and more concentrated interest for the audience. In 5-hour-long stages, there are loads of (often beautiful) countryside shots to fill in the time, no such thing available on Zwift…
And here’s our 17th trip past the ferris wheel. Construction began in 2013, finishing one year later, it’s just as stunning as the last 16 times we’ve seen it….
They wanted the races to be fun to watch. Also, consider that pros are now training for outdoor racing. Getting them to commit to racing a series of 4-6 hour races indoors is just a non-starter, I would think.
From DCRainmaker’s article on the same subject:
Champs-Élysées: 4.1mi / 6.6km with 127ft / 39m
Lutece Express: 4.1mi / 6.6km with 127ft / 39m (Champs-Élysées in reverse)
So – they went and did the Champ Élysées two-way…When, oh when, will Zwift give us a full road width circuit? Can you imagine the iconic hairpins with two-way traffic? Who in his right mind would want to ride that in reverse?
Capacity. Look at Richmond pre refresh and you will understand why
There hasn’t been a hairpin on the Champs Elysees circuit since 2012. Since then they’ve always swept around the Arc de Triomphe, and that road is plenty wide enough for 2-way traffic!!
I stand corrected on the hairpins.
I do maintain that going up-down les Champs in 2-way traffic each side is a faux-pas. Look at any picture of the pack there, and now imagine it 2-way (which will actually be 4-way since they go up to the Arc taking all the westbound lanes, and down using all the eastbound ones).
Why is the virtual TdF due to finish a stage at Chalet Reynard rather than the top of Ventoux, while it appears for L’Etape it is indeed right to the Observatory at the top??
To keep the pro race shorter (under an hour). It’s still 15km and 1100m of climbing to Chalet Reynard, so no small stage!
Plus real TDF etappe 2020 (TT) also ends at Chalet
L’Etape 2020 doesn’t go up Ventoux at all – it goes around Nice.
I can’t wait! I can see the Red Devil, love it! One downside, there won’t be any drug test 🙁
I’m always surprised how many people object to weight doping on Zwift, yet very few mention actual doping!
Online racing is introducing far more than drug enhancement. Weight doping as you said, bikes, etc.
Anyway we can world-hack this already?
If not, will it be available sooner then the start of the event?
Sure can – plenty of people posting up Strava KOM’s and pics from various routes already
Any idea what the world code is?
(yawn). I’m really trying to feel the excitement, but it’s not there. I really can’t imagine watching other people Zwift on TV. Understand that I LOVE Zwift – I’m a 68 year old Level 40 who has enjoyed hundreds of hours Zwifting. I’m also a huge TDF fan. But watching people Zwift on TV? No. All I want to know is when I can ride these wonderful new roads.
Alreed. Ive already said in the first topic why this update disappoints me and this news hasnt made in any beter. Watch the pros ride the watopia hilly stage on a saturday? And I can even ride it myself and get a jersey? It Just doesnt do it for me, I Just want to ride the New tarmac.
What on earth would have made you happy?
Sharpen up Sander
I’m hoping to see the real-life video feeds of the pro’s like the pro races of the TDZ last winter. I loved watching the pro’s in garages and condos with fans — seeing their heart rates at 180-200bpm and their legs spinning at a cadence of 100-120rpm looking like real-life hamsters. For me that real-life video feed is incredibly appealing — though I watched their zwift avatar performance and strategy with interest too. So bring on real-life blood, sweat & tears!
I’m not sure I could be less excited to be honest. It’ll be nice having a new world. But watching the pros race on Zwift so far has been really boring
aaaahhhhh!!! (angelic singing and light from heaven)
This is FANTASTIC! can’t wait!!
so l’Etape doesn’t include a Champs route? weird…oh too crowded?
Yes. Also, L’Etape has always been about doing big routes with climbs. Hard routes. The IRL L’Etape would never do a flat sprint circuit!
Will zwift put each stage up, so ordinary zwifters can ride the same courses or cut down
Amazing. Anxious to ride in this routes
I wonder if this means we’ll have more framesets available in the drop shop?
Isnt the Didi Senft balloon just the most brilliant thing???
For US viewers, NCBSN is showing the July 4 race actually being broadcast on July 6, Monday. So a bit of a delay, unless they change things.
Sweet! I’m looking forward to riding and watching! Do you know if we need to ride all three stages to unlock the l’Etape kit?
From Zwift’s email: Earn the in-game 2020 L’Etape du Tour kit when you complete any stage
Trying to register for L’etape but doesn’t work. How do we do it?
Like any other event!
So still no news really…
I hope that in time Zwift will add the Sault and Malaucène Ventoux approaches in addition to Bédoin, so we can all attempt to join a virtual version of Les Club des Cinglés du Mont Ventoux.
My thought exactly!
And then the Forest road for Galériens 😅
Awesome !! Can’t wait !!
Muy buena opción para los amantes del deporte además permite desarrollarlo por medio de nuevas herramientas. Cuando amas a un deporte te preocupas por que se expanda y encuentre nuevas vias para oxigenarse y mantenerse vivo.
Are the professional teams racing for any awards other than bragging rights?
Nope! It’s a charity initiative, that’s it.
hey at least that means the women and the men will be paid the same, for once…
Paid the same, racing same distances and receiving the same broadcast coverage. Great that Zwift enabled this.
I tried both Champs Elysee and Ventoux yesterday. Ventoux was as expected way too long for my BFA. Paris will be a good route for racing.
How did you try them? Did you use a world hack?
I was Zwifting and someone in my house was watching Geraint’s tour rewind (7:[email protected]) and when the theme tune came on, I got a lovely rush of warmth and happiness through me. Nothing compares to Le Tour
I’ve noticed that there are recon rides for the new courses scheduled on the companion app (https://www.zwift.com/events/view/931072) but you can’t join them (or I can’t) I’m guessing you won’t be able to ride these until the events start?
Those rides are just for the vTDF pros.
Extremely disappointed in the shortness of the stages. They could’ve done ~60-70km stages. Zwift Community Live covered the virtual Joe Martin stage race that had stages in 70+km in length. And it was great watching, and they did men’s and women’s races back-to-back rather than concurrently, too! This is honestly a travesty.
I get what you’re saying, but … it’s a charity benefit, not a replication of the TDF. And you’ve got to keep in mind these pros are doing training rides now for outdoor racing, so Zwift events can’t be too grueling or they’ll impact that training.
There are several actual travesties unfolding before our eyes, but this damn sure ain’t one of them.
when will these routes be available to select for our planned events. We are looking to include on 22 and 29 July. Will that be possible?
Probably. But Zwift hasn’t said when yet.
Apparently the TdF recon rides of three of the stages starts tonight a 1am PDT (that’s California, USA). If you go onto Zwiftpower, Events, and look for the TdF Recon rides, you can see who’s doing them. Impressive power numbers for the most part. Unfortunately, I couldn’t sign up on the Zwift site, dammit…
Those recon rides are for the pros who will be racing the vTDF. We can see the events, but we can’t sign up for them!
Simple the best place to learn about Zwift, plan routes, and stay updated.
any word on makeup dates?
I don’t think there will be any.
Are these new routes event only? I’m injured at the moment and probably won’t be back on the bike for a few weeks and then only short rides. I’m keen to try Ventoux when my I’m fit enough. Any word on how these new routes will be released to the Zwift community?
They’ll be like other guest maps soon enough. My guess is by August’s calendar, if not sooner.
Will these be counted on zwiftpower as a race?
Yes. L’Etape du Tour stage results will be here: https://zwiftpower.com/league.php?id=433
Sounds great. Will the new routes be made a permanent addition to roam as and when after the TdF?
Have you got enough info to update your Zwift Routes by Difficulty PDF now?
Are the FRANCE maps available on iOS And AppleTV?
As available as they are anywhere else! Well, sort of.
So good that the ladies are included in this. I’m looking forward to seeing the gals out on the real road in future at the TdF. Long overdue.
Hi I have been busy on zwift since March and was really excited when they announced france routes, especially as I have done them on the real roads. But unfortunately went on holiday just before the Ven-top and Paris routes became available and now I seem to have missed them and cannot find them?. Are they or will they still be available. Really hope so. A big shame and waste of resources making them if not. Hopeful. Andy