With a gap in the calendar, Vincenzo Nibali, Mads Pedersen and Bauke Mollema will be amongst the biggest names to take part in the Digital Swiss 5 race series, the first of its kind.
Velon, in collaboration with Tour de Suisse organization and the ROUVY virtual cycling platform, will be organizing the first team vs team virtual race series, with 16 World Teams going head to head in the race series which takes place April 22-26.
Each stage will see three Trek-Segafredo riders using their Saris smart trainers to race against their familiar rivals on varying terrain, with video footage of the Tour de Suisse roads used as the backdrop. The parcours will vary each day, some will take place in the Swiss mountains and will suit the climbers, others will be on flatter terrain for the fast men. Each team has the chance to change their line-up between races, allowing them to field the best team for each course. The riders will be represented on screen by an avatar wearing their Trek-Segafredo kit riding their Trek bikes.
I'm looking forward to doing some hard racing and getting the heart rate high again.
World Champion Mads Pedersen welcomed the innovative approach: “Normally I don’t spend much time on the Saris home trainer, but right now I actually enjoy it, especially with the races coming up. It’s super nice that we can still compete against each other and we were able to find a different solution to this difficult situation everyone is experiencing. It’s great to do some races against each other again and we are able to continue racing despite the distance between us. Personally, I’m looking forward to doing some hard racing and getting the heart rate high again.“
Each race has been condensed into around an hour of competition and Sports Director Gregory Rast is expecting some intense racing: “I watched the Virtual Tour of Flanders and saw that they went flat out for an hour. When you see the numbers afterwards, you realize how hard that race actually was. It’s not like a typical road race where the beginning is hard, then it’s easy and then it’s hard again at the end. Since this is just one hour, it will be full on the whole time. I don’t think the riders will be able to say much meanwhile…”
I think these events are important to keep the focus on professional races. Waiting to get back on the road in the real world, virtual cycling is also a great way to stay in touch with our fans.
Like many others, Vincenzo Nibali is eager to see how the races unfold: “I am curious to face the Digital Swiss 5 challenge. Compared to the virtual rides in which I took part, this time I expect a higher component of competitiveness. It will be interesting and also strange to test myself in a competition like this. I think these events are important to keep the focus on professional races. Waiting to get back on the road in the real world, virtual cycling is also a great way to stay in touch with our fans.“
The Digital Swiss 5 races will be broadcast and streamed online around the world. Information about how to watch live can be found on the velon website.
Cycling fans can take advantage of the free ROUVY AR app to access a range of features while in “Spectator” mode, including the ability to find a rider anywhere on the course. You can also view the pro races live in the app.
In addition, fans will also be given the opportunity to compete on the same routes as the professionals. The fan race takes place after the professional event with the chance for fans to win unique prizes. Click here for more information on the online open fan race.
Vincenzo Nibali (ITA), Mads Pedersen (DEN), Bauke Mollema (NED), Antonio Nibali (ITA), Edward Theuns (BEL), Emils Liepins (LAT), Gianluca Brambilla (ITA), Giulio Ciccone (ITA), Koen de Kort (NED), Nicola Conci (ITA), Niklas Eg (DEN), Toms Skujins (LAT)
(Three riders to compete per day. The names will be announced each morning ahead of the stage.)
Race 1: Wednesday, April 22, 1710 – 1820 CET
Race 2: Thursday, April 23, 1710 – 1820 CET
Race 3: Friday, April 24, 1710 – 1820 CET
Race 4: Saturday, April 25, 1710 – 1820 CET
Race 5: Sunday, April 26, 1410 – 1520 CET