Italy has been on lockdown since March 9th, and is country most-heavily affected by the coronavirus pandemic. But after nearly two months, the country is planning a gradual re-opening, including the allowance of socially-distanced outdoor sporting activities beginning on May 4th. This is welcome news to tens of thousands of cyclists who have been unable to ride outdoors since early March.
France will be exercising a similar allowance, with pro riders being permitted to train outdoors as of May 11th. Riders will only be allowed to ride solo for now, and sporting competitions in France are currently banned until at least July 15th.
Revised 2020 Race Schedule
The revised UCI Women’s WorldTour calendar is set to be announced May 15, along with a revised UCI international calendar. A plethora of races have already been cancelled, including Strade Bianche, Bevrijdingsronde van Drenthe, Trofeo Alfredo Binda, Driedaagse Brugge-De Panne, Gent-Wevelgem, Tour of Flanders, the Ardennes Classics, Tour of Chongming Island, and the Women’s Tour.
New dates for the Giro d’Italia Internazionale Femminile and La Course are said to be in the works, although nothing has been confirmed at this moment.
Virtual Tour de Suisse
The Digital Suisse 5 took place this past week on the virtual cycling platform, Rouvy. While the screen provided real-life camera angles and perspectives from the road, the lack of draft simulation meant that each stage was more of an individual time trial rather than an actual eRace. Riders from the top professional teams in the world competed, with each team having the option to switch up their roster for each stage.
Rohan Dennis (Team Ineos) took the first stage, beating Nicolas Roche (Team Sunweb) and James Whelan (EF Pro Cycling), respectively, by over a minute on the mountainous 26.6km course.
Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ) won Stage 2 in dominant fashion ahead of Filippo Ganna (Team Ineos), and Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb) who gapped Greg Van Avermaet (CCC Team ) only in the final few hundred meters.
Stage 3 was set to be one for the climbers with the 33 km course finishing atop the virtual Nufenen Pass. In the end, it was Nicolas Roche (Team Sunweb) who took the win over a minute ahead of Ilnur Zakarin (CCC Team) and American Larry Warbasse (AG2R la Mondiale).
Küng (Groupama-FDJ) took his second stage win of the race with a come-from-behind victory against Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb) and Ethan Hayter (Team Ineos). Matthews attacked from the gun and built up a sizeable lead over the rest, but Küng was able to make his way back to the Australian, slowly but steadily, only catching Matthews with 2 km to go. The Swiss man was too strong in the end, but Matthews’ aggressive performance still netted him an impressive second place.
Dennis (Team Ineos) won the fifth and final stage of the Digital Swiss on the virtual 36 km course that went over Lukmanierpass. Roche (Team Sunweb) had another impressive ride to finish second, just 12 seconds down on Dennis, while Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) earned the final podium spot in third.
Thousands came together on Zwift to ride with the Toronto Hustle cycling team as they completed a 24-hour ride with the goal of raising $150,000 for the Michael Garron Hospital Foundation. Pro riders such as Catherine Pendrel, Leah Kirchmann, Kate Courtney, and Alessandro Ballan joined in, and over 2300 donations were made. At the time of writing, over $215,000 has been raised for the Michael Garron Hospital Foundation.
Travis Samuel – a rider on Toronto Hustle – also broke the 24-hour Zwift record, riding 1008 km during the fundraiser. Samuel averaged 42.1 kph, and spent no more than a half hour total off the bike during the 24-hour span.
Upcoming Virtual Races
SEG eRacing U23 Series – Starting this week, SEG will be hosting their eRacing U23 Series on RGT Cycling, which includes a number of one-day races as well as stage races continuing into May. Top U23 squads from around the world will be taking part such as the Jumbo Visma Development Team, Hagens Berman Axeon, GB Cycling Academy and National Teams from the US, Germany, and Belgium.
US Pro Road Tour on Zwift – Project Echelon Racing will be hosting a virtual Redlands Bicycle Classic as a part of the new virtual USA Cycling Pro Road Tour (PRT) on Zwift. Races are set for Friday, May 1st, and Sunday, May 3rd. Over a hundred professionals and domestic elite riders are expected to start the Friday night criterium and Sunday road race, respectively. Each stage will be professionally broadcast and livestreamed on YouTube.
A significant portion of the real-life 2020 USA Cycling PRT has already been cancelled, including races such as Tulsa Tough, Redlands Bicycle Classic, Tour of the Gila, and Rochester Twilight Criterium. Bringing the unofficial platform to Zwift should at least provide some entertaining outlet for racers and spectators alike.