Ryan Gibbons and NTT Pro Cycling made a bit of Tour de France history today when the South African champion sprinted to the stage 1 victory of the first ever Virtual Tour de France.
Racing on the the Zwift virtual cycling platform, 23 of the worlds best cycling teams lined up for the first ever virtual Tour de France today. NTT Pro Cycling’s 4-rider lineup included, Gibbons, Reinardt Janse van Rensburg, Edvald Boasson Hagen and Rasmus Tiller.
Stage 1 was an undulating 36.4km over 4 laps of Zwift’s Watopia virtual world. Each lap contained an intermediate sprint and a category 3 climb, meaning the fight would be on from the start for the green and polka dot jersey’s.
NTT Pro Cycling took the race on from the front, with all 4 riders present at the head of affairs throughout the stage. This saw our quartet regularly racking up points in both intermediate competitions. However, the main goal today was the final sprint for the line, and to secure the stage win and yellow jersey.
On the final lap, Gibbons, Boasson Hagen and Tiller crested the category 3 climb, which peaked with just over 2km to go, in a front group of around 30 riders.
Pavel Sivakov (Team Ineos) and Greg van Avermaet (Team CCC) tried to go early for the line but it was Boasson Hagen who led out the sprint proper, with Gibbons catapulting into the lead in the final 200m with a perfectly timed sprint.
Gibbons secured the first ever virtual Tour de France stage victory ahead of Pier-Andre Cote (Rally Cycling) and Nico Schulz (Mitchelton-Scott).
Boasson Hagen held on to claim 6th place on the stage and Tiller also crucially finished in the yellow jersey points scoring top 25 places, to ensure NTT Pro Cycling also took home the first Virtual Tour de France yellow jersey.
Thanks to accumulating points at the intermediate sprints and Gibbons stage winning sprint, NTT Pro Cycling will also have the green jersey for tomorrow’s stage 2 and the lead in the team’s classification. A fantastic start for our South African UCI World Team in cycling’s biggest ever virtual race.