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Virtual Tour de France stage 1 – Live coverage

Zwift Tour de france: Stage 1

Stage 1 of the Virtual Tour de France (Image credit: Zwift)

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Virtual Tour de France stage 1 start list

Virtual Tour de France: Exclusive stage-by-stage recon

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Hello and welcome to our first ever live coverage of a virtual race, stage 1 of the Virtual Tour de France.

Stage 1 is set to get underway in half an hour, and there's a plethora of viewing options available. Check them out here in our 'how to watch' guide.

There are plenty of stars on the start list today, including Michał Kwiatkowski, Kasper Asgreen, Oliver Naesen, Mathieu van der Poel, Greg Van Avermaet, Mads Pedersen and Michael Matthews.

We're about to go live in just a few minutes. The excitement is palpable!

And we're off! It's the women's race up first.

Today's stage is a 9.1km loop with 108m of climbing, which will be traversed four times by both the men's and women's pelotons, covering a total digital distance of 36.4 km (22.8 mi) and an ascent of 432 m (1,416 ft). 

Zwift Tour de France stage 1 elevation

(Image credit: zwift)

Chantal van den Broek-Blaak and Amy Pieters of Boels Dolmans are up front early on, but it's a mid-sized group forming here.

29km remaining

Erica Magnaldi (Ceratizit-WNT) led Joscelin Lowden (Drops) over the first QOM of the race. 

That's 10 points for her with three more times up the hill to come.

Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) has put in an attack and she's pushing big watts to try and stay away – over 400 at the moment.

She crosses a bridge on Watopia and passes under the sprint banner for 10 points. The main peloton brings her back soon afterwards.

Some riders are struggling off the back after that effort from Longo Borghini. There is virtual drafting on Zwift, of course, so the effort and struggle is real.

23km remaining

Longo Borghini, Blaak-van den Broeck, Dygert... There are plenty of big names in this lead group as they hit the climb.

Kristen Faulkner (Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank) put in a stint on the front before dropping away.

Magnaldi is on the front now, she's been up front quite often today.

20km remaining

It was a close-run thing at the top, with the two women sprinting it out to get across the line first.

The peloton pass through the finish line; they're at the halfway point now.

...and Longo Borghini clips off the front again, eager for more points.

She's seven seconds up on the peloton and duly takes the sprint points once more.

As she did on the last lap, Longo Borghini drops back to the peloton, her job done. It's clear she's here for the green jersey.

Here's a look at the race, with the peloton rolling along 14.5km from the finish. Two climbs to go.

They head uphill for the third time. A number of them are activating the featherweight power-up, which reduces their weight by 15lbs for 15 seconds.

Magnaldi battles with Lowden and her Drops teammate April Tacey at the top. Lowden leads them over the climb.

10km remaining

The group pass the finish line once more. The next time around they'll be competing for the win!

There aren't many riders left in the group now, maybe 15 or so.

The camera focusses on Tanja Erath (Canyon-SRAM). She's one of the riders who turned pro after making it through the Zwift Academy, so she has a lot of experience at this type of virtual racing.

5km remaining

They're about to hit the final ascent of the race!

Once again, a few riders are using the weight power up on this climb.

It may be virtual, but it's still tough as Magnaldi and Longo Borghini push the pace at the front. Riders are standing up on their trainers, straining to stay in touch here.

Chantal Van den Broeck-Blaak used her ghost power-up to sneak off the front, but Magnaldi makes her way back. Lowden uses her featherweight power-up and surges past!

1.5km remaining

Blaak, Lowden, Magnaldi, Dygert, Dixon, Ludwig, Tacey are all up there.

It's a small group contesting the sprint for victory.

More riders make their way back. Dygert launches first!

April Tacey (Drops) uses a power-up at just the right time though, and powers past the American to take the win!

Here's a shot of the sprint for the line.

Here's the top ten today.

So that's the first race of the day one of the first ever Virtual Tour de France done with. It was quite an exciting finish, with a group of riders sprinting it out at the line.

The men's race is up next with the likes of Van Avermaet, Kwiatkowski, Matthews and Van der Poel set to battle it out on the same course.

Some July 4 deals for you before the mens' race gets underway.

And here's a roundup of the best deals for this year's July 4 celebrations.

The men's race is underway in the meantime, and they're already approaching the first sprint of the race.

It was Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott) vs  Gerben Thijssen (Lotto-Soudal) at the line and it looks like Impey took it.

32km remaining

Rafael Valls (Bahrain McLaren) has put in an attack on the lower slopes of the climb, but a group of riders are chasing him down.

Dan McLay (Arkéa-Samsic) has a go now.

Philipp Walsleben (Alpecin-Fenix) leads over the climb, ahead of Valls.

Kasper Asgreen (Deceuninck-QuickStep) hits the front on the descent.

The riders are all back together here. It's not the most taxing course to kick the race off.

Impey goes for the second sprint of the day, and he takes it pretty easily.

24km remaining

A few riders are hanging off the back of the group already.

Numerous riders are activating their lightweight power-ups on the climb, a little boost to save some energy.

Pavel Sivakov (Team Ineos) shows his face up front.

AG2R's Ben Gastauer pushes on near the top of the climb but its Walsleben who makes it across the line first. Edvald Boasson Hagen (NTT Pro Cycling) takes second.

20km remaining

15km remaining

Here's a shot of the peloton on the virtual road.

The peloton has thinned down to around 25-30 riders as approach the third climb.

Walsleben goes for it near the top but Freddy Ovett of Israel Start-Up Nation just nips it at the line.

10km remaining

Van der Poel is up front as the riders head into the final lap. He could be saving his energy for the dash to the line.

He's been quiet so far today but would be one of the favourites at the line.

Van der Poel isn't going to be at the real Tour de France this year, of course. His Alpecin-Fenix team didn't receive an invitation to any of the Grand Tours.

Here's Van der Poel in his pain cave alongside virtual VDP.

Harry Sweeny of Lotto Soudal took the final sprint of the day, beating
Reinard Janse Van Rensburg to the line.

3km remaining

Walsleben jumped off the front and just clinched the points at the top once again.

They'll descend to the finish now. Not long to go.

1km remaining

Kwiatkowski is back up front again, using his aero power-up.

300 metres to go now!

Boasson Hagen hits the front leading out teammate Ryan Gibbons, who uses his power-up at just the right time.

Ryan Gibbons (NTT Pro Cycling Team) takes the win on the opening stage!

South African champion Ryan Gibbons after his victory.

Here's the top ten.

Our stage reports are up. Read the women's and men's reports here.

That's all for our live coverage of stage 1 of the Virtual Tour de France. Be sure to check out our stage reports too!

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