Watch the third stage in the LIVESTREAM above! We start at 8PM (CET).
Overall, it has been pretty impressive to see organisers, teams, and riders adjust to the new pandemic reality, stay positive in the face of adversity, and continue to give fans something to look forward to. As the whole UCI Women’s WorldTour calendar has been postponed and largely reimagined, there is one event coming up next week that is really showcasing some of the new possibilities offered in an age of virtual racing.
A stand-alone event to the real-world Women’s Tour road race, this year’s aptly named V-SERIES, is intended to make the most of what the virtual racing scene has to offer. Taking place between Wednesday the 17th and Friday the 19th of June, the event will see riders and teams from across the world racing to raise money for two important charities, Breast Cancer Now and Mind. Another very cool thing about the V-SERIES? You can join in and ride each stage for yourself at home.
The brave new world of virtual racing
After the pros have battled it out for the title of the Women’s Tour over three stages, you can also experience riding the same route on the RGT Cycling virtual platform. It’s worth noting that another neat opportunity offered by hosting a virtual event is that the imagination is quite literally the limit when it comes to mixing and matching possible routes. Although the organisers of the Women’s Tour stuck to some pretty classic choices, they’ve undoubtedly crafted a three-stage package that is primed for plenty of action.
The first stage unfolds over what was formerly the final 38.4 kilometres of the 2014 stage to Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk. Fans of Marianne Vos will recall she impressively claimed this one in a bunch sprint when the course was first used six years ago. Next, riders will complete a replicate of the finishing circuit from 2019’s hilltop finish at Burton Dassett in Warwickshire. Kasia Niewiadoma took this 35.7-kilometre race, which features three ascents and a 1.7-kilometre climb, at last year’s race and it was also featured in the men’s Tour of Britain.
In terms of the software being used to bring this race to life, the first two stages will be raced on RGT Cycling’s ‘Magic Roads’ interface, which has allowed event organisers to utilise GPX files to simulate the routes and profiles. The last stage of the event, which consists of a daunting 35 laps around the world-famous business district of Canary Wharf, London, is one of RGT Cycling’s ultra-realistic ‘Real Roads.’ With a super sharp simulation of this one-kilometre circuit that has featured in a number of editions of the Tour Series, there should be plenty of edge-of-your-seat action as the Women’s Tour wraps up.
What teams will be racing?
Some of the world’s leading teams are coming out to participate in the inaugural edition of this virtual event. The lineup will include riders from Bigla Katusha; Bizkaia Durango; Boels Dolmans Cycling Team; CAMS Tifosi; Cogeas Mettler Look Pro Cycling; Drops; FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope; Great Britain; Hitec Products Birk Sport; Lotto Soudal Ladies; Rally Cycling; Storey Racing; Team Breeze; Team TIBCO Silicon Valley Bank; and Trek-Segafredo.
All competing for victory, teams are putting their best foot forward and bringing out some big names to represent them on the virtual stage. Trek-Segafredo, for example, have announced that they will race US National road champion Ruth Winder, Tayler Wiles and Lotta Henttala. “Having the opportunity to participate in the Virtual Women’s Tour will be a nice change to the monotony the riders are experiencing at home these days with no racing in the immediate future. The stages have something for everybody, and we tried to assemble a team that can compete well in all of them,” said the team’s director Ina Teutenberg in a press release.
Outdoor racing may be on hold but our support for women's cycling isn't. Watch 20 teams of pro riders compete in the first ever virtual reality women's race: the ŠKODA V-SERIES Women's Tour. See who tops the virtual podium, then ride the route yourself at home with @rgt_cycling. pic.twitter.com/XY8CSjIOWE
— ŠKODA UK (@SKODAUK) June 11, 2020
You can be part of the action too
As mentioned above, for those who count themselves as both fans and participants in our beloved sport, members of the public will also have the chance to ride the three routes following the completion of each stage. For a suggested donation of £5 to raise money for the event’s partner charities (more on those below), amateur riders can test themselves against the pros for three days following the professional race.
More details on how to join will be posted on the Women’s Tour website in the coming days and the event will be hosted on RGT Cycling. Note that it costs nothing to register for RGT and that all their premium features are currently available for free (due to the pandemic), so if you’ve got a setup at home and have been curious to see how your skills stack up against the pros – now is a great time to find out!
The charities the Women’s Tour is supporting
Part of the strategy of making the racecourse available to amateurs is to help the event bolster support for their charity partners, Breast Cancer Now and Mind. Breast Cancer Now is the UK’s first comprehensive breast cancer charity and combining world-class research and life-changing care, they have the ambitious goal to basically eradicate death from breast cancer by 2050. The charity currently funds about a third of all breast cancer research in the UK.
Mind, a mental health advocacy and support charity, operates under the mission statement: “We won’t give up until everyone experiencing a mental health problem gets support and respect.” They provide advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem and campaign to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding.
Where you can watch the event
Whether you’re watching to plan your strategy for taking on the course yourself, or simply want to see some of the world’s top cyclists do what they do best – you’ve got a few options. Organisers have announced that the event will be broadcast live on BBC Sport at 6 p.m. UTC for each of the three stages through the BBC Sport website, app and BBC iPlayer. The races will be broadcast live via the Women’s Tour Facebook page and YouTube channel, as well as the We Love Cycling YouTube channel. Commentary and expert analysis will be provided by Women’s Tour commentators Marty MacDonald and Olympic Champion Joanna Rowsell Shand.