Virtual Tour de France to be held by ASO and Zwift

Both men's and women's races will be held during the original race dates

Rigoberto Uran and Tom Dumoulin (Getty)

A virtual Tour de France for both men and women is apparently in the works, with race organiser ASO and Zwift reportedly agreeing a deal to fill the void left by the French Grand Tour this July.

The e-race will take place across three weekends during the Tour's original dates, according to Cycling News, who have reportedly seen details of proposals that would see men's and women's races consisting of six stages take place between July 4 - 19.

15 teams are said to have already signed up for the event, with 10 television channels covering 130 countries set to broadcast the event, with viewers having to wait patiently for the start date of the real race in late August.

All stages will be around an hour in length, starting in Nice and ending on the Champs-Élysées in Paris, with a tough mountain stage planned as the centrepiece of the event.

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A number of major races have offered virtual replacements for their postponed events during the coronavirus pandemic in attempts to keep fans entertained during the lack of real racing action, with a virtual Tour of Flanders taking place earlier in the year as well as the recent Digital Swiss 5.

The quality of racing and popularity of events has been mixed, with the races over the past few months the first real series of e-racing to regularly involve both professional riders and large online audiences, and therefore subject to inevitable teething problems.

While many riders turned to indoor training during lockdown, it's not for everybody, with former world champions Alejandro Valverde and Peter Sagan expressing their dislike of riding within the confines of their homes.

"I have little motivation because I don’t know what my next goals will be. Training on the rollers burns you out physically and mentally," Valverde told El Mundo back in April.

Amateurs have also been enjoying indoor riding as UK turbo trainer sales experienced an "unprecedented" increase in demand, with Simga Sports reporting a 977 per cent rise in March.

Meanwhile, Decathlon said it had seen "four digit growth on turbo trainer sales" as many retailers sold out of stock.

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