Some of cycling’s biggest names, including Vincenzo Nibali, Mathieu van der Poel and world champion Mads Pedersen, are taking part in what has been billed as the first virtual tournament between pro cyclists, the latest in a series of contests that in recent weeks have enabled some form of racing to continue despite much of Europe being under lockdown.
Called The Challenge of Stars, the tournament has been jointly organised by RCS Sport, owners of the Giro d’Italia, and indoor training brand Bkool.
To be held on 23 and 24 May, the two-day competition will see eight sprinters compete in a one -on-one knockout tournament, with eight riders classified as climbers doing likewise, resulting in one winner being crowned in each category.
Fans will be able to follow the tournament on social media, with Bkool – which last year stopped making turbo trainers to focus on its app – promising that they will “enjoy an innovative, engaging and immersive experience with a different perspective that will make them participate in all the challenges as if they were really on the roads.”
The progress and results of the races, which will be held in a virtual representation of the countryside in Tuscany for the sprinters and the Passo dello Stelvio for the climbers, will be shared on social media.
Paolo Bellino, CEO and General Manager of RCS Sport, said: “In this period, being unable to carry out road races outdoors led us to think of new ways to organize cycling races; this is how the Milano-Sanremo Virtual Experience and the Giro d’Italia Virtual were born.
“The next step was to devise a unique, innovative and engaging format, ‘The Challenge of Stars’.
“It’s an event with great television potential that will enable all fans, also thanks to the Bkool platform, to live a true professional cycling experience and will enable top riders to compete in unprecedented challenges on this new terrain."
Bkool CEO Benito Vázquez, commented: “After many years holding indoor cycling competitions for amateurs on our platform, recently BKOOL has also been organising competitions for professionals, broadcast via different media, which have been a great hit.
“We are convinced that our simulator's technological capabilities fused with RCS Sport's experience and knowledge, will mark a new milestone in the development of this type of competition, offering a groundbreaking format that is very attractive to the general public and professionals alike, as these cycling stars have never been seen competing like this.”
As well as being made available on its own official social media channels, the event will also be broadcast internationally.
Here’s the list of riders confirmed as participating:
Pascal Ackermann (BORA-Hansgrohe)
Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo)
Nacer Bouhanni (Team Arkéa Samsic)
Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix)
Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-Quick Step)
Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal)
Matteo Trentin (CCC Team)
Rafał Majka (BORA-Hansgrohe)
Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segafredo)
Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo)
Warren Barguil (Team Arkéa Samsic)
Jakob Fuglsang (Astana Pro Team)
Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal)
Simon Geschke (CCC Team)
Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.