Eurosport, GCN and Zwift unite for virtual cycling series

Discovery-owned international sports broadcaster Eurosport and Global Cycling Network have joined forces with online training and racing platform Zwift to launch a new exhibition racing series for the sport.

The Tour for All will be held on the Zwift virtual platform over five stages raced from May 4-8.

Featuring teams from both the men’s and women’s World Tours, each stage will be screened live on all Eurosport platforms and streamed globally on the GCN app – with highlights on GCN and social media channels. This is part of a collaboration between the two brands, both of which are Discovery subsidiaries.

Both men’s and women’s racing will be screened each day between 2pm (BST) and 4pm. Teams and the top 25 riders will gain points across the week alongside a daily individual race winner. There will also be intermediate points on each stage and double points for the Top 10 on the Queen Stage (Stage Five).

Stages will range in distance from approximately 45km to 75km, and approximately 400m and 1700m in elevation, with race times estimated to be between 1hr 15min and two hours, depending on the distance and elevation of each stage. Results will be points based and determined by the team’s performance and results for each stage.

Andrew Georgiou, president of Eurosport and global sports rights and sports marketing solutions, said: “During the current pause in live sport, Discovery is bringing to the fore its creativity and partnership building credentials to bring fans the type of live content they’ve been missing. We are going beyond the archive to offer something completely new that will bring together cycling fans on mass with new stories and unpredictable moments at every turn.

“Through this series, we aim to leverage Discovery’s unrivalled global scale, brands and channel portfolio as part of a deeper collaboration between Eurosport and GCN to bring new and larger audiences to cycling so they can experience the thrills of the sport first-hand.”

Speaking to SportBusiness at the start of the month, Georgiou said that Eurosport would look to virtual and esports events, plus archive, to help fill the void during the Covid-19 shutdown, but that it would also look for other content solutions.

Tour for All will open a month-long charity fundraising initiative that will see Zwift donate a total of $125,000 (€115,000) to Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières and its Covid-19 crisis fund. An additional $125,000 can be unlocked once 250,000 people complete a stage of the Tour for All.

The professional racing series is designed to showcase the mass-participation stages and encourage ‘Zwifters’ to take part by riding some of the same courses that the pros have raced. PowerUps, which deliver a range of small advantages, will be offered to riders as a tactical tool.

Zwift’s latest venture comes after the International Cycling Union (UCI) signed a wide-ranging Memorandum of Understanding with the platform in September, through which it will develop cycling esports and hold a first-ever World Championships in the discipline.

The men’s teams signed up to compete in the Tour for All are: Alpecin-Fenix, Bahrain-McLaren, CCC Team, Groupama FDJ, Israel Start-Up Nation, NTT, Pro Cycling Team, Rally Cycling, Team Cofidis, Mitchelton-SCOTT and EF Education First Pro Cycling.

The women’s World Tour will be represented by: Boels Dolmans, Canyon//SRAM Racing, CCC-Liv, Drops, FDJ Nouvelle – Aquitaine, Futuroscope, Team Twenty20, Tibco and Rally Cycling.