Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the sporting world has ground to a halt. The prestigious spring classics and the Giro d'Italia are being postponed or canceled. Of course, in this serious situation, the priority is to contain the virus and keep the population healthy. There have not been months without sporting events like this since the Second World War.
For this reason, the Tour de Suisse, ROUVY and Velon have joined forces to launch a world premiere in digital pro racing. The goal is to bring the top teams in the world together to compete against each other on the ROUVY Indoor Cycling Reality platform. In the new racing format, The Swiss Digital 5, riders compete against each other each day on sections of some of the most beautiful Tour de Suisse stages, whilst respecting the global restrictions resulting from the COVID19 pandemic.
The cycling pros are connected on their racing bikes to "smart" roller trainers. While the cyclist sees the track and his position in the race on the monitor in real-time and as a real-life video image in front of him, the smart roller trainer applies the respective resistance to the pedals - depending on the topography of the track. Five digital races, each lasting approximately one hour, are planned for April 22 - 26, 2020 and will be broadcast live by Swiss television SRF.
The Swiss Digital 5 will include many riders from WorldTour Teams as all teams that will be competing in the Tour de Suisse are invited to participate. Cyclists will ride on sections of the TdS 2020 route, thanks to the detailed and realistic route simulations of ROUVY. In these video recordings of the actual route, the individual cycling pros are displayed as 3D avatars in their team kit - true to their position in the ongoing race. These digital racing images are supplemented by live pictures of the cyclists during the TV broadcast. The plan is to install one camera for each team, which will transmit live images of these riders during the race. The Swiss Digital 5 races will also be commentated by experts and Velon will provide performance data live from the living rooms of the cycling pros.
"I love cycling because it takes place outside and in all weathers", explains Swiss cycling professional Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ), "but in these extraordinary times, when some of my team colleagues can only train in their own homes and all races are canceled until further notice, such novel digital races are certainly an exciting addition. It is also attractive for our sponsors as it allows them to regain attention".
"I think it's a fantastic way for cyclists to stay motivated and to have an experience that resembles an actual race", Grégory Rast, Trek-Segafredo Sports Director, is confident.
"For our team, the Tour de Suisse is an outstanding and important race and we hope this year's edition will not be canceled - for me as a Swiss, it is the best race in the world".
And thanks to the introduction of The Swiss Digital 5, cycling fans at home and abroad can once again enjoy a cycling event. There are also plans for staggered hobby races, so that amateur cyclists at home can compare their performance with that of the professionals.
Despite the Corona crisis, fans can watch their favourite teams and riders live on TV or online stream. The professionals and their teams have a platform to present themselves and compete on a sporting level. Exciting races are guaranteed by means of digital racing pictures, live webcams and running commentary. And all this under the motto: Special circumstances require special measures.
About Tour de Suisse
The Tour de Suisse (in Eng: Tour of Switzerland) is an annual cycling stage race in Switzerland. Raced over nine days, the event covers two weekends in the latter half of June. Since 2011, the event is part of the UCI World Tour, making it the 4th biggest and toughest professional road cycling race globally, coming just after 3 Grand Tours.
Velon offers unrivaled access to the best professional cycling teams in the world. Velon is owned by: BORA-hansgrohe; CCC Team; Deceuninck - Quickstep; EF Education First; Lotto Soudal; Mitchelton-SCOTT; Team INEOS; Team Jumbo-Visma; Team Sunweb; Trek-Segafredo; UAE Team Emirates.
Velon - from the teams to the fans.
The Czech company ROUVY is one of the most popular providers of indoor training software solutions in the cycling community. ROUVY distinguishes itself from other providers thanks to realistic representations of the track simulations. These are based on real video recordings of the routes. Besides a variety of existing routes like the Furka Pass, the Stelvio or other cycling classics, ROUVY also offers a wide range of virtual events for the benefit of its user community.
More opinions from WorldTour teams:
Grischa Nierman, Team Jumbo-Visma coach, said: "During this difficult period where public health is more important than cycling races, we are open to try out new indoor cycling concepts. Online racing is growing rapidly, and we are very curious how it will work out to battle with our competitors. Not on the road, but from our own houses this time."
Luke Roberts, Sport Director, Team Sunweb, said: “This is a great e-sports opportunity for us and fans to still engage with racing under circumstances that mean a traditional approach to racing is not possible. For most cycling enthusiasts, riding outside is not permitted and this interactive approach gives professionals and fans alike to still engage with a race in a safe way under the current situation.”
Michael Matthews, Team Sunweb, said: “These are difficult times for everyone at the moment and this is a really cool way for us to interact with our fans and race when standard racing is not possible. It gives us something to be motivated to do and be excited for when everything else is so uncertain at the moment. I personally am really looking forward to watching and maybe even racing myself.”
Bauke Mollema, Trek-Segafredo, said: "I have great memories from Tour de Suisse including a stage win in 2013 and a 2nd, 3rd and 5th place in GC. I love riding in the mountains and on Suisse roads. I was looking forward to racing again, but obviously, this is uncertain at the moment. To stay in shape and keep competitive form, I am riding a lot of hours on our Saris Smart Trainer, but I never actually participated in a virtual race. It seems like a great way to stay fit and test my condition against other pro riders. See you online!"
Tour de Suisse
MM Digital Cycling Races Switzerland