Bernal is due to travel from Colombian to Europe to begin his preparations for his Tour de France defence next week on a special charter flight along with many of his compatriots who are returning to racing after a four-month layoff due to the coronavirus pandemic. Bernal will race stage 3 with Ineos teammates Ethan Hayter, Christian Knees and Michal Golas.
The two stages this weekend are on the 'R.G.V' and 'Casse-Pattes' courses, both featuring several hundred metres of climbing over 48km and 45.8km on stages 3 and 4, respectively.
Stage 1 winner Ryan Gibbons (NTT Pro Cycling) returns on stage 3 to help his team defend its overall lead along with Max Walscheid, Rasmus Tiller and Edvald Boasson Hagen, while women's leaders TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank come with Kirsten Faulkner – second on the opening stage – Nina Kessler, Emily Newsome and Kendall Ryan for stage 3.
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Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb), who showed his competitive streak with several strong performances in the Digital Swiss 5 virtual race earlier this year, will feature on stage 3 along with other notable riders such as Elia Viviani (Cofidis), Nacer Bouhanni (Arkéa-Samsic), and Belgian champion Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix).
Time trial world champion Chloé Dygert Owen (Twenty20) and junior world champion Megan Jastrab (Rally Cycling), Dutch champion Lorena Wiebes (Sunweb), US champion Ruth Winder (Trek-Segafredo) and stage 1 winner April Tacey (Drops) also star in stage 3.
Sunday's stage 4 has a tougher climb closer to the finish and will be another test for TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank's Lauren Stephens, who leads the women's worldwide Zwift rankings. She'll face stiff competition from Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (CCC Team) and Lizzie Deignan (Trek-Segafredo), who is making her debut in the race.
The Virtual Tour de France is being run as a team competition, with each rider accumulating points toward their team's ranking. The races will be broadcast live and anyone can ride the course for stage 4 of the event on Zwift this weekend in any of the 16 time slots.
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