Women’s Tour to go virtual after coronavirus forces race cancellation
Organisers will fill the void with three virtual stages between June 17 and 19 using the RGT Cycling virtual platform.
The Women’s Tour will go virtual next month after the coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation of this year’s edition.
The six-stage Women’s WorldTour event had been due to take place between June 8-13, but was initially postponed in March before confirmation of its cancellation came earlier this month.
But organisers will fill the void with three virtual stages between June 17 and 19 using the RGT Cycling virtual platform.
No riders have yet been confirmed as taking part, but the Trek-Segafredo team of 2019 champion Lizzie Deignan is among those to have signed up.
The list of 15 squads named so far includes three other WorldTour teams – FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope; Rally Cycling; and Team TIBCO Silicon Valley Bank – and a Great Britain national squad. Each team will field a three-strong line-up.
Dubbed the ‘V-Series’, the stages will be broadcast live online each evening, with racing scheduled to get under way at 7pm each day. A television broadcast partner is due to be announced next week.
Two of the three stages are based on classic days from previous editions of the Women’s Tour, with a 38.4km route to Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk, as well as 2019’s hill top finish in Burton Dassett in Warwickshire. The final stage will involve 35 laps of a short circuit based on London’s Canary Wharf.
Jonathan Durling, partnerships director for organisers Sweetspot, 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 Skoda V-Series Women’s Tour to fruition.”