Belgium holds virtual Tour of Flanders as corona shuts down event

  • Tuesday 07, April 2020 02:41 PM
  • Belgium holds virtual Tour of Flanders as corona shuts down event
Sharjah24 – Reuters: Belgium's famed Tour of Flanders cycle race went virtual on Sunday (April 5) after being postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, with 12 cyclists pedalling it out in isolation on stationary bikes hooked up to a video-game recreation of the Belgian countryside.
Complete with roadside advertising and virtual spectators waving flags, the avatars of the Tour of Flanders were carried on Belgian television with live commentary, complete with camera shots of competitors in their homes cycling the shortened virtual course for rival red and yellow teams.

Racing in full cycle gear and sweating from home, Belgian Greg Van Avermaet won the first ever virtual Tour of Flanders, which is normally the second of five "Monument" classics in the season including races in France and Italy.

The race was 32 kilometres long, instead of the usual 260, and involved 12 riders instead of 175, taking an hour for a competition that usually lasts six.

Cycling is a favourite pastime in Belgium, and the authorities have been debating whether curbing it is necessary.