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Evenepoel, Van Avermaet, Van Aert to race virtual Tour of Flanders on Sunday

The riders attack the cobbles
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The 104th edition of the Tour of Flanders will not take place as planned on Sunday, but the organisers are holding a 'virtual', online edition of the race, featuring 13 of the world's best Classics riders. 

2019 Flanders champion Alberto Bettiol (EF Pro Cycling) will be on the virtual start-line for what's being dubbed the 'DeRonde 2020 lockdown edition', along with Greg Van Avermaet (CCC Team), Oliver Naesen (AG2R La Mondiale), Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo), Mike Teunissen and Wout van Aert (both Jumbo-Visma). 

Deceuninck-QuickStep will have two of their cobbled classics specialists in Zdenek Stybar and Yves Lampaert, but also the 20-year-old sensation Remco Evenepoel, who had been targeting the Giro d'Italia this year. 

The start list is rounded out by the Lotto Soudal duo of Tim Wellens and Thomas De Gendt and the Team Sunweb duo of Michael Matthews - fourth at the Tour of Flanders last year on his debut - and Nicolas Roche.

While the real Tour of Flanders was due to be 266km in length, with the riders in the saddle for more than six hours, the online edition will be just 32km. 

Using Bkool's online cycling platform, those 32km will replicate the finale of the Flanders course, taking the riders over the Kruisberg, Oude Kwaremont, and Paterberg before the 13km run-in to the finish in Oudenaarde. 

The riders will compete from home on smart trainers that are able to replicate the demands of the climbs and cobbles, and the action will be streamed via Kiswe and broadcast on Belgian television channel Sporza. 

Riders will enter their weight so that their power-to-weight ratio determines their speed, with their avatars brushing shoulders on the virtual course in real time. 

While the Kwaremont's difficulty lies in its 2.2-kilometre length and the roughness of the cobbles, the Paterberg, starting just 3km later, is a short but devilishly steep ascent. The riders then descend through narrow farm roads before heading through the flat final 10km to the line in Oudenaarde.