NTT Pro Cycling will celebrate Mandela Day (18 July) in truly unique fashion as the holders of the yellow jersey going into the penultimate stage of the first-ever Virtual Tour de France.
In Saturday’s fifth stage, South Africa’s Louis Meintjes will wear the yellow jersey (maillot jaune) with the iconic Mont Ventoux summit finish set to provide the fireworks, ahead of Sunday’s final that finishes on the Champs-Élysées. He’ll be joined by Stefan de Bod, Domenico Pozzovivo and Ben O’Connor.
As a purpose-led, performance-driven and technology-enabled team, NTT Pro Cycling has wholeheartedly embraced the opportunity to race in the virtual world, and our approach has been as focused for the event as for any other race we compete in.
This has paid dividends from as early as the opening stage where South African champion Ryan Gibbons took line honours, and NTT Pro Cycling hasn’t relinquished the yellow jersey since. After four stages we also currently lead the standings in the team, points and young rider classifications.
This 5th “queen” stage of the event falls on the same day as the former President of South Africa’s birthday; and it is day in which citizens around the world are urged to devote 67 minutes to honour the former statesman’s legacy.
In previous years NTT Pro Cycling has celebrated Mandela Day by wearing unique orange helmets during the Tour de France. This year our riders’ Zwift avatars will carry an orange 67 on the “number plate” area on the back of their bib shorts, to go with orange helmets and other elements.
In addition, we will proudly pay tribute to Nelson Mandela’s legacy as we join Laureus Sport for Good for two 67-minute Zwift rides on Mandela Day. The Peloton for Good will be raising funds for young people across the world affected by the Covid-19 pandemic through the Sport for Good Response Fund.
On the day two rides – 10h00 CET and 19h00 CET – will see Laureus Ambassadors and Academy members including the likes of Sir Chris Hoy, Victoria Pendleton, Sean Fitzpatrick, Daley Thompson, Steve Waugh and a host of others all involved in an event that is to be broadcast live.
For NTT Pro Cycling the Japanese champion Shotaro Iribe, South African champion Ryan Gibbons along with Nicholas Dlamini and Ben King will be among our riders taking part in the event.
Members of the public are encouraged to join us and to celebrate Mandela Day as part of their 67 minutes to “do good”. To find out more about the event and to join a ride then click here.
Douglas Ryder, Team Principal, NTT Pro Cycling
After four stages the team has started really well, consolidating on the opening weekend that saw a victory for Ryan Gibbons. Being a points race it’s all about depth and quality but it’s one of the hardest hours of racing you can do. This weekend is critical for us, leading four competitions, but ultimately we’d like to win the yellow jersey and the first ever Virtual Tour de France. Having key technology partners for a team like ours we love this stuff. We love technology, connecting with fans in different ways and this is a great opportunity to do just that.
The queen stage up Mont Ventoux will likely be decisive, plus it is Mandela Day, such a special day for this team. We hope that Louis can be right up there fighting for a victory with his teammates, and with Ryan Gibbons winning the first stage in a sprint perhaps he can bookend the race with a win on Sunday, which would be just epic for us. Ultimately we want to get as many riders in the top-10 to secure as many points as possible, and try to make history by winning the first ever Virtual Tour de France.
One of the dreams of this team was that we will stand on the podium in Paris, let’s hope our first step in that journey is to be on the podium of the Virtual race come the end of the weekend.
I’m really, really looking forward to stage five of the race. It’s going to be a very tough one climbing up Mont Ventoux, it’s very steep and it’s going to take a bit of time to get to the top! It should be a good race and I’m looking forward to it.
It’s also exciting to be wearing the yellow jersey again being the leading team and gives us some real extra motivation. Hopefully that will be the spur to deliver another good performance as it’s Mandela Day.
Our team’s first ever stage victory at the Grand Boucle was on this day in 2015 courtesy of Steve Cummings, so this is a very special day for us all, and it’s an excellent chance to shine the spotlight on a day that has such meaning for our team, South Africa and people around the world.