The first Virtual Tour de France kicked off today around the hilly loop of Watopia and saw 16 women’s teams and 23 men’s teams race full gas from start to finish. Taking in 4 circuits of the hilly course with 4 intermediate sprints and 4 Q/KOMS up for grabs.
The women’s peloton was whittled down to a small group that made it to the line with April Tacey (Drops Cycling) sprinting over first with Kristen Faulkner (Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank) taking second and Chantal Van Den Broek-Blaak (Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team) rounding out the podium.
The men’s race saw the peloton split early on and the lead group riding to the line in a fast sprint finish. Ryan Gibbons (NTT Pro Cycling Team) powered up and went hard taking the stage win with Pier-Andre Cote (Rally Cycling) taking second and Nick Schultz (Mitchelton-Scott) taking third.
The most combative riders of the day were Elisa Longo-Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) and Edvald Boasson Hagen (NTT Pro Cycling Team).
Tomorrow we see both pelotons taking to the virtual road again over the Watopia mountain route. NTT Pro Cycling and Drops Cycling head into Stage 2 holding the Maillot Jaune. For further details click here.
“I can’t believe me winning means the team are going to be wearing the yellow jersey tomorrow. My plan was that if I got an aero boost with a few laps to go to keep it and use it for the final. I had it with two laps to go and my brother clicked the aero boost with 300 meters to go and then I just gave it my all.
“I think it’s really important to have this for women’s cycling. It's a big thing and it will just help grow women’s cycling even more.”
“I’m feeling truly, truly overwhelmed. It's such a great initiative and it’s good to have something like this. I’ve been really missing the racing so it’s been great to be able to be a part of it, and then to win the first stage is something special.
It was a very tough route, cresting that final climb 2 kilometers from the finish I think everyone was pretty toasted at the top and then trying to save a bit of energy on the downhill. Fortunately I had a power up and it was a fast run in so I knew I had to go early. Once I went I knew I just had to really keep going, it was a fast sprint but I’m happy that I managed to pull it off.”
There’s no respite, obviously it’s no comparison to the length of a full Grand Tour stage but in a Grand Tour it’s not flat out racing from start to finish, there’s a lot of times where you can recover, you can have a chat with your friends, whereas on here from the moment you clip in to the finish line it’s absolutely full gas. It comes down to pure power, it’s pretty ruthless.”
Full results here