The inaugural virtual Tour de France proved to be a celebration for South Africa as the country’s UCI World Team held off the challenge from the other 22 professional teams. This was after the final stage of the race ended in an exciting sprint on the Zwift virtual Champs-Elysees course.
A fully committed team performance over the three weekends of racing had NTT Pro Cycling go into stage 6, the final stage, of the virtual Tour de France leading every classification in the race. Ryan Gibbons, Edvald Boasson Hagen, Max Walscheid and Rasmus Tiller were the four riders lined up for NTT Pro Cycling on the Champs-Elysees.
…and in commanding fashion, win every other classification in the race too! 💛💚❤🤍💙
— NTT Pro Cycling (@NTTProCycling) July 19, 2020
While cheered on by the entire squad from the team’s base in Lucca, Italy, it looked like Gibbons was going to bookend the race with stage wins, but the South African road champion did not repeat his stage-1 victory and was narrowly beaten to the line, finishing in third place on the stage.
Tiller, Walscheid and Boasson Hagen all managed to place inside the top 10 as well, taking fourth, sixth and ninth, respectively.
NTT Pro Cycling’s commanding performance let the team ride away with the yellow general classification jersey, the green points jersey, the polka dot king of the mountain’s jersey and the white jersey for the best young rider. The team also secured the victory in the overall team classification.
Doug Ryder, the team principal, said: ‘To win the first-ever virtual Tour de France, the team was just exceptional. This was an amazing opportunity for us to engage with people on a platform that is uniquely different, and I believe e-cycling racing is here to stay. We put a lot of effort into the event, as did NTT providing the data and analytics viewers could see on screen, so to win the first ever Le Tour Virtual is brilliant.
‘A thank you to the ASO for putting on the event, together with Zwift, as we were able to connect with people during a time when they have possibly never felt further apart. Inspiring hope in the lives of others is what our team’s mission has always been, and through incredible technology we were able to do this during the Virtual Tour de France.’
The overall classification of the inaugural Virtual Tour de France was won by the NTT team, whose owner Doug Ryder feted the achievement.
‘To win the first virtual Tour de France is great for our team,’ Ryder said. ‘NTT has put a lot of work into this. For ASO to put this event on, this is definitely going to stay. We are super excited to have won this first virtual Tour de France.’