Chris Froome among top riders competing in Challenge of Stars
Virtual event pits riders head-to-head in BKool circuits
Some of the world's top riders including returning four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome (Team Ineos), Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segafredo), and world champion Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) are competing this weekend in the "Challenge of Stars" – a unique head-to-head virtual race on the BKool platform.
The races, organised by RCS Sport in collaboration with BKOOL and with partners Tissot and Enel, will be broadcast live in on VRT Sporza with distribution in Italy, Portugal, Poland, Israel, Brazil, Colombia, the USA and Canada, China and South Africa, and also streamed on The Challenge of Stars' official social channels (Facebook and YouTube).
You can watch the Challenge of the Stars, no matter your location, with ExpressVPN.
"At a time like this when we are unable to race it's great to be able to use technology to put on an event like The Challenge of Stars and bring entertainment to the cycling fans," Froome said in a press release. "I'm looking forward to taking on this new type of challenge against some of the top riders in the sport."
The racing begins with the sprinters on Saturday, May 23 at 16:30 CEST with eight sprinters going in four heats on a 1.2km course in the Tuscan countryside, with an average gradient of 0.97% and a maximum of 2.53%.
- Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) vs Nacer Bouhanni (Team Arkéa-Samsic)
- Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-QuickStep) vs Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo)
- Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) vs Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix)
- Matteo Trentin (CCC Team) vs Filippo Ganna (Team Ineos)
Then, on May 24 at the climbers will tackle a 2.9km ascent on the Stelvio climb, with an average gradient of 8.69% that peaks at 12.75%.
- Jakob Fuglsang (Astana Pro Team) vs Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo)
- Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segafredo) vs Simon Geschke (CCC Team)
- Rafał Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe) vs Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal)
- Chris Froome (Team Ineos) vs Warren Barguil (Team Arkéa-Samsic)
"The Challenge of Stars format, with its one-on-one knockout matches, is something innovative and unpredictable among the virtual races seen so far," Vincenzo Nibali said. "While we are waiting for real races, on the road, I think this format is a nice way to give fans a show and create a challenge between great champions."
List of broadcasters
- VRT Sporza, EEN – Belgium
- Sky Sport – Italy
- Eleven Sports – Italy, Portugal, Poland
- Sport 5 - Israel
- ESPN Latin America – South America
- ESPN Brasil - Brazil
- Win – Colombia
- FloSports – USA & Canada
- Zhibo.tv – China
- Bilibili - China
- SuperSport – South Africa
- Oympic Channel - worldwide
Several of the channels are available on popular cord-cutting television streaming services. Sling TV is offering $10 off for the first month while Hulu is offering a free 7-day trial.
If you live outside a broadcast zone or are on holiday outside your country and find that the live streams to be geo-restricted, you can get around this by getting access to them by simulating being back in your home country via a 'virtual private network', or VPN, for your laptop, tablet or mobile.
TechRadar tested hundreds of VPNs and recommends the number-one VPN currently available as Express VPN. With ExpressVPN, you can watch on many devices at once including Smart TVs, Fire TV Stick, PC, Mac, iPhone, Android phone, iPads, tablets, etc.
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By Josh Croxton