Van Avermaet, Roglic and Alaphilippe headline Digital Tour de Suisse
A host of top WorldTours pros will participate in the five virtual stages, organised by the Tour de Suisse and Velon on the Rouvy racing platform from April 22 -April 26
Top riders include World Champion Mads Pedersen, Olympic road race winner Greg Van Avermaet, the winner of the 2019 Vuelta a España Primoz Roglic, the winner of all three grand tours Vincenzo Nibali, the winner of the 2019 Clasica San Sebastián Remco Evenepoel and the winner of four stages of the Tour de France, Julian Alaphilippe.
"Normally, I don't like to spend time on my home trainer but right now, I actually enjoy it," said Pedersen. "Especially with the races coming up, it's really nice that we can compete against each other and find a different solution in this difficult situation everyone is in. I think it's great that we can race against each other while keeping our distance, so I'm really looking forward to doing some hard racing and getting the heart rate up again."
After winning the virtual version of the Tour of Flanders, Van Avermaet is looking forward to these races. "After my first taste of virtual racing a couple of weeks ago, I am interested to see how I go in The Digital Swiss 5," the Belgian commented. "Virtual racing is definitely not easy. The races may be much shorter than normal races but the effort is much more intense and you have a much smaller window of opportunity to make the difference when it comes to tactics."
"I'm happy we are giving fans something to watch while we are not racing on the road. I think it's important for everyone. As well as giving fans entertainment, it gives the riders some motivation and it is a chance for the teams to show their sponsors. We're in for some tough races next week so I'll give it everything I have to get another virtual win under my belt."
Alaphilippe, who lit up the 2019 Tour de France, is looking forward to this competition. "I am really looking forward to racing The Digital Swiss 5," the Frenchman connected. "It is a new type of race for me, very different to anything I have done before, but I know the set-up will be really good and it is great that we are able to race during this difficult time and have something where we can focus and test our condition. I hope that the fans will enjoy watching what will be some tough days of racing."
Tune in as we livestream and provide realtime analysis on Gran Fondo Guide.
Race 1: Wednesday, April 22, 17:10 - 18:20 CET
Race 2: Thursday, April 23, 17:10 - 18:20 CET
Race 3: Friday, April 24, 17:10 - 18:20 CET
Race 4: Saturday, April 25, 17:10 - 18:20 CET
Race 5: Sunday, April 26, 14:10 - 15:20 CET
Wed, 22 April - race one: Agarn - Leukerbad - 26.6km
There are two climbs with the first much tougher than the second. Despite the shortness of the race, the riders will ascend 1,192m in total.
Thu, 23 April - race two: Frauenfeld - Frauenfeld - 46km
Four laps of an 11.5km circuit around the town that will host the start of the 2021 Tour de Suisse. There are a couple of short, sharp inclines on each lap but with only 180m of cumulative climbing, this should be a day for the sprinters.
Fri, 24 April - race three: Fiesch - Nufenenpass - 33.1km
A benign start to the race will see the riders tackle a relatively flat opening 20km. But then the feared Nufenenpass kicks in. It is the highest road pass in Switzerland, and the summit finish at 2,478m means the riders must climb more than 1,000m in altitude over the final dozen kilometres. If you fancy your chances, there is a 'fan race' right after the professionals have had a go.
Sat, 25 April - race four: Oberlangenegg - Langnau - 36.8km
The fearsome Schallenberg mountain is the first of two climbing tests but the second half of the race is downhill so expect a fast finish into Langnau.
Sun, 26 April - race five: Camperio - Disentis-Sedrun - 36km
The first 15km is all uphill, over the Lukmanier Pass, which tops out at 1,975m. The following 15km are down the other side but riders will need to reserve a little energy for the kick up to the finish in the final six kilometres.