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Looking Back on 2020

By Adam Marsal

Despite the COVID-19 outbreak, the professional cycling scene didn’t break down and concluded at the finish of all three Grand Tours. Even though most races were postponed and stripped of the audience, it was a successful year with many positive feats.

Apart from the Grand Tour rollercoaster, 2020 continued by completing 10 out of 11 women’s WorldTour events, and the UCI Road World Championships, which was moved from Aigle and Martigny area in Switzerland to Imola in Italy, saw Julian Alaphilippe crowned as the new champion. Throughout the year, we witnessed countless breathtaking moments such as the unprecedented climbing effort of Tadej Pogačar, which secured his overall victory in the Tour de France or young Tao Geoghegan Hart winning the Giro d’Italia.

Team Ineos Grenadiers
Tao Geoghegan Hart won the 2020 Giro. © Profimedia

To our honest surprise, team Ineos Grenadiers dropped Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas from the Tour de France line-up, Egan Bernal collapsed during a strenuous climb on the Grand Colombier, and Jumbo-Visma’s Dylan Groenewegen caused a crash while sprint-finishing in the Tour de Pologne that plunged Fabio Jakobsen into fighting for his life.

Let’s have a closer look at other stories of the year 2020.

We joined forces with Rouvy

In January, we joined forces with ROUVY, a modern interactive virtual cycling platform to bring you the chance to step up the winner’s podium from the comfort of your home. Anyone interested had the opportunity to take part in four virtual racecourses that included characteristics of the real-life routes to the smallest detail. By completing all of them, virtual riders automatically entered the We Love Cycling draw for four amazing prize packages with the first prize containing a Green Jersey signed by Peter Sagan.

Virtual riders participated in Ride for Italy

Our collaboration with ROUVY continued even after the coronavirus outbreak in March when the northern Veneto region in Italy was heavily affected. Hospitals were in a state of emergency and the number of beds was in a dramatic decrease. ROUVY pledged to donate 1 EUR for every rider who completed the virtual Ride for Italy challenge, modelled after genuine Italian roads.

Ride for Italy
Virtual riders rode for Italy.

A positive campaign launched to overcome adversity

Ride2Unite became a brand new cycling initiative designed to spread positivity in the face of adversity caused by the pandemic. It was designed to encourage amateur cyclists and fans to get back on their bikes after the first wave of the coronavirus-related training break. On our website as well as on social media channels, professional cycling stars Wilco Kelderman, Michael Matthews, Andy Schleck, Philip Gilbert and Laurens ten Dam answered questions from the audience made up of amateur cyclists.

Over 80,000 people participated in the virtual Tour de France

The Tour de France organiser agency, A.S.O., teamed up with online cycling training developer Zwift to launch the first-ever virtual Tour de France. Cycling fans could join alongside the pros and battle their way through the full variety of virtual stages. The same went for L’Etape, an open day for amateur cyclists, which usually takes place when professional riders have a day off in the schedule. More than 80,000 people turned up, making the virtual Tour one of the most successful events in the history of digital entertainment.

Virtual Tour de France
The Virtual Tour.

Grand Tours postponed

Because of the COVID-19 lockdown, the UCI was forced to completely rearrange the racing calendar for the better part of the year. Many of the races were cancelled or postponed and the organisation had to squeeze as many races as possible into the short period between August 1 and October 31. Even though postponed, all three Grand Tours took place. The Tour de France started on August 29 and finished in Paris on September 20. the Giro was held in October. The Vuelta was shortened by cutting down three stages. The Spanish tour also overlapped with the Giro. All Grand Tours were heavily affected by the massive reduction of fans alongside the routes as well as the official accompanying events that took place without an audience because of strict hygienic measures. The positive news, however, was the addition of the women’s Paris-Roubaix race that took place the same day as the men’s event.

The all-electric Škoda ENYAQ iV led pros through stages of the Tour

For the first time in the history of the Tour de France, the participants were led by an all-electric vehicle. Only a few days after the Škoda ENYAQ iV was revealed at the world premiere in Prague, millions of cycling fans could see it in action at stage 5 of the Tour. A historically unparalleled event illustrated the dedication of Škoda to the cycling world. The ENYAQ iV made three appearances over the 2020 Tour de France including the famed Champs-Élysées grand finish.

Škoda ENYAQ iV
Škoda has been the vehicle of choice for the Tour director’s car for many consecutive years but it’s the first time the ever-present SUPERB model stepped down from the throne to be replaced by the brand new ENYAQ iV.

Phenomenal Tadej Pogačar made the greatest sensation of the year

No one could have guessed the almost 22-year-old Slovenian Tadej Pogačar winning the Tour, which made him the second-youngest champion in history. Moreover, he became the first rider ever to collect a full house of jerseys: Yellow, White for the best young rider and a Polka Dot one for the best climber. The only jersey he missed was Green as he finished eighth in the sprinter competition.

Torrential rain turned Downhill World Championships into a rider’s misery

Reece Wilson became the new Downhill World Champion on the wet, wild and muddy Downhill World Championships in Leogang. Weather in the Austrian Alps changed course beyond recognition in comparison with the preceding training days. Brutal atmospheric conditions unparalleled in the MTB history brought along torrential rains that turned dirt into mud, in which riders created deep ruts. Contender Vali Höll failed to take part in the race after a nasty crash sent her over the bars while training for a canyon gap jump, resulting in an injured ankle.