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Pro teams will ride new course ahead of actual Giro race

Zwift has partnered with the Giro d’Italia and will add a brand new 8.2km prologue course on the same day as the professionals line up for the Italian Grand Tour on Saturday 11th May.

The new 8.2km expansion is a simulation of the Giro’s opening prologue time trial around the streets of Bologna. It starts with a 6km flat road leading into a 2.1km climb with a 16% maximum gradient, averaging 9.7%, so it’ll be a taxing route to ride full gas.

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Zwift will cut the ribbon to the new expansion on Saturday 11th May to coincide with the actual prologue of the Giro d’Italia, allowing fans the unique opportunity of riding the same course the pros are tackling on television all at the same time.

On the launch day will be a series of time trial races for people to complete in. The fastest times over the first three days of the launch will be entered into a prize draw to win a Maglia Rosa jersey signed by the 2019 Giro d’Italia.

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As well as the virtual launch, in the buildup to the Giro itself will be an exhibition event in the race village where four of the Professional Continental Teams competing in the actual race, Nippo Fantini, Bardiani, Androni Giocattoli and Israel Cycling Academy, will participate in two races.

These teams, as well as former Giro d’Italia Winner Ivan Basso, will set down some times which you’ll be able to compare yourself against when the course expansion is publicly unveiled a couple of days later.

“The Giro d’Italia has a long history of innovation,” says Paolo Bellino, CEO of RCS Sport, Organisers of the Giro d’Italia. “It’s always an exciting race and we’ve never been afraid to experiment with new ways to deliver excitement. This year, we are excited to be able to bring a new technological advancement to the race. Not only does this give fans around the world a chance to get closer to the race by experiencing a stage, but it also gives the competing riders a new way to prepare for the start of the race.”

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“This is a fantastic opportunity for us to help encourage global participation around the Giro d'Italia,’ says Eric Min, Zwift CEO and Co-Founder. “By engaging a large global community of cyclists, Zwift has the power to increase the exposure of Bologna as a host start town. The Bologna course will live on long beyond the start on Saturday 11th May and allow many more people around the world to experience a small part of this historic city.”

This is an interesting and exciting development for Zwift, the virtual training and racing platform that is growing rapidly and the founders being aggressive in aligning with key events such as L’Etape du Tour, RideLondon and the World Championships in Innsbruck and Richmond.

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Partnering with a Grand Tour is a move that clearly signals the ambitious of the young Californian company, with the sort of integration we’ve never seen before. Engaging the organisers and getting pro teams to ride the virtual course days before the race the real rides in real life is a big step forward, but could it be a precursor to Zwift providing an actual stage of a Grand Tour or is such a move a step too far?

More info at www.zwift.com/giro

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David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.