Virtual Tour de France: Bernard and Stephens shine in the mountains

The uphill challenges of stage 2 of the Virtual Tour de France offered more thrilling racing as Julien Bernard (Trek-Segafredo) and Lauren Stephens (TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank) dominated their rivals on Sunday. The Frenchman powered to victory ahead of Freddy Ovett (Israel Startup Nation) in the final sprint. NTT Pro Cycling maintain the overall lead with 130 points, ahead of Rally Cycling (90). Earlier in the afternoon, Lauren Stephens outsprinted her rivals in a 5-woman group also featuring her teammate Kristen Faulkner. With a total of 170 points, TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank will defend the yellow jersey on stage 3, next Saturday.

Stage 2 of the Virtual Tour de France brings together some 149 riders (89 men and 60 women) on Sunday afternoon as part of the solidarity events aiming to raise funds for charity partners. The 29.8km course features the Epic QKOM ascent for two thrilling races.

The women go first. Ellen Van Dijk sets a high tempo for Trek-Segafredo at the bottom of the climb and Elise Olsen, wearing the Maillot Jaune for Drops Cycling Team, is quickly struggling off the back. Erica Magnaldi (Ceratizit-WNT) accelerates in the climb to take the QOM points at the summit ahead of the Polka-dot Jersey Jossy Lowden (Drops Cycling Team). Magnaldi keeps going and opens a gap with Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope) inside the last 10 kilometres.

A group of five riders gets together for the final run-in, as Lowden and two riders from TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank get back: Kristen Faulkner and Lauren Stephens. The latter enjoyed a perfectly timed aero power-up to dominate the sprint with an average speed of 51.4km/h in the final 500m. Lowden was second for Drops, ahead of Magnaldi.

TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank lead the overall classification with 170 points. Drops Cycling Team are second with 111.

Bernard shines, NTT hold on

The winner of the 2018 Tour de France Geraint Thomas (Team Ineos) gets in action from the beginning of the men’s stage. With the Yellow Jersey on his shoulders, Louis Meintjes (NTT Pro Cycling Team) is at the front in the first climb, dominated by James Piccoli (Israel Startup Nation). Riders from EF Education First keep pushing after the summit of the Epic KOM but a strong group gets back together in the downhill, including Trek-Segafredo’s Julien Bernard.

Patrick Bevin (CCC Team) tries to get away with his “burrito” power-up in the last 500m. He quickly opens a gap but Freddy Ovett (Israel Startup Nation) closes on him and looks set to take the win until Bernard edges him right on the line.

NTT Pro Cycling retain the overall leadership with 130 points. Rally Cycling are second with 92. The battle returns on July 11 with stage 3 of the Virtual Tour de France.

How to power-up to victory

Power-ups proved essential again on stage 2 and will be a major feature of the rest of the Virtual Tour de France. The aero power-up used by Lauren Stephens in the final sprint made her more aerodynamics for 15 seconds. The other power-ups available can improve a rider’s drafting, make him undraftable, reduce his weight or make him invisible.

Virtual Tour de France 2020 - Stage 2 : Highlights

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