Tanja Erath pips Chloe Dygert to stage three sprint victory in women's virtual Tour de France

The third stage was a virtual rendering of French countryside, featuring both Pont du Gard and Mont-Saint-Michel

Stage three of the virtual Tour de France (Zwift)

Former Zwift Academy winner Tanja Erath sprinted to victory on stage three of the virtual Tour de France, beating world time trial champion and stage one winner April Tacey to take the win for Canyon-SRAM.

The stage was the first to be held in a newly created virtual France on Zwift, equipped with renderings of the Pont du Gard aqueduct and island of Mont-Saint-Michel.

Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank retain the overall lead heading into stage four, leading Canyon-SRAM by 23 points, with Drops in third.

>>> How do you beat a pro on Zwift? An investigation

How it happened

Stage one winner April Tacey, decked out in the polka dot jersey, used an aero power-up to take the points at the top of the category three climb early on in the stage, beating Kathrin Hammes (WNT) into second place.

Stage three of the virtual Tour de France (ASO)

After 22 minutes, the bunch was still together with 16km down and 32km remaining,

CCC's Marta Lach then took the second sprint, beating Alice Barnes (Canyon-SRAM) to cross the line first, with the 20 riders remaining in the front group. A quieter mid-section of the race then followed, allowing riders to recover before the flurry of sprint points as well as the second ascent of the climb before the finish.

Tacey then moved herself to the front as the racing got going again, passing by Mont-Saint-Michel with some virtual hay bale bike field art also on display, the Zwift designers having worked overtime to sate the appetites of fans missing the real-word Tour de France this July.

Trek-Segafredo's Laretta Hanson took the pavé sprint, edging out the Canyon-SRAM duo of Christa Riffel and Alice Barnes on the line.

Passing under the Pont du Gard for the second time, Hammes easily took maximum QOM points on the climb averaging four per cent, with Drops' Fina Smekal and yellow jersey wearer Kristen Faulkner (Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank) just behind, Smekal successfully defending Drops' lead in the polka dot jersey classification.

CCC-Liv then took a one-two at the intermediate sprint despite the best efforts of Barnes, with Riejanne Markus leading Marta Lach over the line and into the final 6km of the stage.

Riders fought for position around a series of disorientating s-bends, the pace ramping up to 50km/h under the flamme rouge.

Dygert was near the front as power-ups were launched early, with Tacey then opening up her sprint, looking for a second stage win. Tanja Erath then came through, pipping both riders to the line, Dygert having to settle for second, while Tacey took third.


Women's virtual Tour de France, stage three: RGV

1. Tanja Erath (Ger) Canyon-SRAM, in 1-06-24

2. Chloe Dygert (USA) Twenty20, at same time

3. April Tacey (GBr) Drops

4. Riejanne Markus (Ned) CCC-Liv

5.  Kristen Faulkner (USA) Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank

6. Alice Barnes (GBr) Canyon-SRAM

7. Evy Kuijpers (Ned) CCW, all at same time

8. Kathrin Hammes (Ger) Ceratizit WNT, at one second

9. Georgia Simmerling (Can) T20

10. Teuntje Beekhuis (Ned) Lotto Soudal Ladies, both at same time

General classification after stage three

1. Tibco - Silicon Valley Bank (USA) - 197 points

2. Canyon-SRAM (Ger) - 174 pts

3. Drops (UK) - 150 pts

4. CCC-Liv (Pol) - 144 pts

5. Twenty20 (USA) - 139 pts

6. Ceratizit - WNT (Ger) - 87 pts

7. Boels Dolmans (Ned) - 81 pts

8. Rally Cycling (USA) - 77 pts

9. FDJ Nouvelle - Aquitaine Futuroscope (Fra) - 70 pts

10. Sunweb (Ger) - 49 pts

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Hi. I'm Cycling Weekly's Weekend Editor. I like writing offbeat features and eating too much bread when working out on the road at bike races.

Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab and I've also written for Vice, Time Out, and worked freelance for The Telegraph (I know, but I needed the money at the time so let me live).

I also worked for ITV Cycling between 2011-2018 on their Tour de France and Vuelta a España coverage. Sometimes I'd be helping the producers make the programme and other times I'd be getting the lunches. Just in case you were wondering - Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen had the same ham sandwich every day, it was great.