Virtual Tour de France: How it’s going to work

Virtual Tour de France 2020

Vogue Cycling Team 

COVID-19 has blindsided us all. From local shops and restaurants, to global sporting events, each and every one of us has suffered to some degree during 2020. Of course, this year’s Tour de France has been no exception.

We’ve seen virtual types of just about everything spring up over the past few months like concerts, events and most of our workplaces. But how would a virtual version of this incredible cycling event even be possible? 

Let’s look at how the Tour de France is going to run in a virtual compacity this year. Here’s what you need to know: 

How will it work?

Not since the World Wars has the Tour de France been cancelled. It’s gone ahead every other year without fail since it began in 1903. With smaller races also being completely cancelled, the virtual race might also be a good chance to increase recently interrupted training schedules and a great motivational booster. 

The race is set to take place across three separate weekends in July with six stages – each stage will be about 1 -2 hours. This is normally a 21-part race broken down into flat, hilly and mountain stages. 

Cyclists will be set up at home in front of a ‘big screen’ showing a simulated version of their journey/race. 

What else is different? – The Rundown

Here’s what’s changed:

• Held over three July weekends (2 stages per weekend) – instead of 23 consecutive days
• Male cyclists can only race a maximum of 3 stages, female cyclists can race up to 4. 
• Stages will be short – the longest is set to be 48kms 
• There’ll be 23 men’s teams and 17 women’s teams joining the online race 
• Participants to run the race at home – using stationary bikes 
• Resistance or gradient will be adjusted at home – simulating hilly, flat and mountain sections of the race 
• Cyclists compete for charity money and not a prize 
• Zwift will be hosting the race – a virtual athletic training platform for cyclists and runners 
• Participants will cycle through a ‘virtual world’ called Watopia – amidst other mock-up virtual landscapes of the real thing like the French countryside etc. 
• It will be broadcasted to over 130 countries around the world! 


With all these changes come a new level of adaption that’ll have to be taken onboard this year by each contestant. Some cycling coaches are suggesting that this Tour de France could be tougher than ever. This is because:

  •  The overall physicality of the challenge will differ
  •  Your body won’t be able to cool down the same as riding outdoors on the road 
  • The bikes dynamics and resistance will feel completely different 
  •  It’s much more difficult to stay motivated indoors without feeling real, moving elements like wind or the road’s surface being collected under your feet with each pedal. 

All of these factors will contribute to an undoubtedly new look-and-feel Tour de France. It’s one thing for the participants to adapt to, but what will fans have to say about it? 

Put it this way, if the pandemic had happened a decade or two ago, things would be catastrophically different again. There would be no work-from-home conferencing or video chat apps. There’d be no virtual events, and we definitely wouldn’t be seeing any Tour de France at all whether virtual or real.  

The point here is, although it’s not going to play out quite the same, in the end we should all be grateful as fans that we have technological possibilities to keep these types of shows on the road. We’ll just have to watch our favourite competitors as animated cyclists as they move in a default manner across a cool background screen. 

Big Names to Look Out For 

Men’s 

  •  Egan Bernal
  •  Chris Froome 
  • Geraint Thomas and; 
  •  Greg van Avermaet 

Women’s 

  •  Marianne Vos
  • Chloe Dygert  
  •  Anna van der Breggen and; 
  •  Kirsten Wild 

So, there you have it. Although a little bit different, the Tour de France lives on!  

Not even a pandemic can stop the most popular cycling event on the planet. For all of those asking, ‘How far can this go?’ well this may serve as at least part of your answer – we now have virtual sport!

As we begin to see the light at the end of the COVID tunnel, eagerly awaiting to get back to life as we know it can’t come quick enough. In the meantime, tune into the race online, soak up some inspiration and excitement from the legends of cycling and look forward to getting back out there on the road! 

You’ve basically got two options; enjoy these new strange times and check out some high-quality virtual bike racing, or wait for the real deal scheduled for August 29.  

But as usual, happy cycling! 



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