The start day of the famous french cycling competition, Tour de France, was delayed until August 29 due to the pandemic, but a virtual version of the race will begin as scheduled on July 4. The virtual race will also include women for the first time in the event’s history.
The riders will be spread across 40 teams and complete 6-hour-long animated stages over the course of three weekends. Tour de France organizers Amaury Sports Organization (ASO) have partnered with Zwift, an online training platform, to put on the event. Although the Tour de France has run for over a century, women have never been allowed to participate.
Race organizers created the Course d’un Jour race after a petition from female riders in 2013, but this virtual event will be the first to feature women such as American Chloe Dygert and Dutch great Marianne Vos riding the same course as male participants, although not in direct competition. British champion Alice Barnes has stated this virtual edition is a “massive opportunity” for women’s cycling.
The Tour de France is taking more steps to reduce sexism in the event such as implementing both male and female podium presenters. Organizers also plan to have an in-person large-scale female race by 2022.
Viewers in over 130 countries worldwide will be able to watch the virtual event online, and amateur riders are also welcome to join. This is a great way to get people engaged and active during quarantine and a big step towards gender equality in the sport.