Rally Cycling is preparing to take on the newly-created ŠKODA V-Women’s Tour this week. 18 teams from the women’s peloton will put forward three riders each to take on three days of virtual racing, June 17-19.
The team’s lineup will feature Heidi Franz, Leigh Ann Ganzar, and Krista Doebel-Hickok.
The first two of the three stages borrow from the Women’s Tour of Britain which was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, making use of RGT Cycling’s ‘Magic Roads’ software, enabling organizers to simulate existing routes and profiles using GPX files.
The first stage refers back to the inaugural edition of the Women’s Tour with a rolling stage through Suffolk and an expected sprint finish. Stage 2 in Burton Dassett, Warwickshire, takes the riders around a challenging circuit before finishing on a climb with an average grade of 4.9% over the last 1.7km. The three-stage race will then come to a close with a high-octane criterium around London’s business district of Canary Wharf.
It’ll work just like any stage race with individual stage wins and virtual leaders’ jerseys up for grabs, but there’ll be no time bonuses so all riders will have to work especially hard to find a gap.
There is, however, one big difference between the virtual race and the real thing: each team will be allowed to make one replacement during the race in case of injury, illness, or technical issues that force a rider out of contention. In the event of a substitution, the new rider will start with a 20-second time penalty and be placed at the back of the GC standings.
“I’m excited to see the WorldTour teams logging on for the race, the level of competition is going to be really high,” said Leigh Ann Ganzar. “This is our first time competing on the RGT Cycling platform so there will be a steep learning curve with the new race dynamics.”
With commentary and analysis provided throughout the V-Women’s Tour, organizers are planning some exciting innovations that promise to offer unparalleled insight into the riders and teams involved. As for the riders themselves, they’re beginning to look further ahead.
“Virtual racing gives a good approximation of what the last bit of a real-world race feels like,” Ganzar explained. “The intensity is a good way to stoke the fire while we prepare for regular racing to resume.”
With the rearranged calendar of road races on the horizon, Ganzar gave her view on the remainder of the season, “I’m really looking forward to getting back to racing and expect there will be proper precautions and protocols in place so that we’ll be able to race safely.”
After each stage of the V-Women’s Tour, the public will be able to ride the same routes as the pros with a suggested donation to support Mind and Breast Cancer Now.
Stage 1: Wednesday, June 17th – Bury St Edmunds, 38.7km (SPRINT)
Stage 2: Thursday, June 18th – Burton Dassett, 35.4km (HILLY)
Stage 3: Friday, June 19th – Canary Wharf, 35km (CRIT)
There will be live coverage of each stage on BBC Sport (UK only), the Women’s Tour website and its YouTube channel starting at 1 pm CDT.