This is probably old news for Zwift fans, but no less fun: the Tour de Zwift is well underway! The biggest online cycling event ever on Zwift comprises nine stages, and takes place throughout January. A great way to start your training year! And the chance to ride every Zwift route (which you would normally have to unlock).

Tour de Zwift

This is Zwift’s biggest-ever online event so far. The spectacular route (comprising nine stages) takes you through five different virtual worlds. This is the ideal way to have a first encounter with all of these worlds in a short time: it would normally take a lot longer. While the Tour de Zwift claims not to be a race, there are mass starts announced for given times. This means you ride with thousands of other ‘Zwifters’ along the course. And we can confirm through first-hand experience that this helps boost motivation no end!

As you ride, you see exactly what your own ranking in the peloton is. Also, it helps to ride behind other (virtual) riders in order to get the full benefit of drafting, as the Zwift program lightens the resistance on your home trainer a little, to simulate the aerodynamic advantage. This can ease the pain in your legs a little, before you power on ahead.

The rules

Just as with a real, physical cycling event, there are rules. Although the entire event is based on voluntary participation, it’s possible to win (virtual) prizes. If you complete all nine stages, you unlock a special Tour de Zwift outfit for your virtual rider. Every stage starts at numerous predetermined times, two days in a row. The best way to keep track of this is with the Zwift Companion smartphone App. All types of rider are catered for, which means that a group starts off at almost every time of day. This means that even if you have the most crowded diary, you’ll likely be able to join in. If you still can’t fit all of the stages into your schedule, you’re allowed to skip one or even two stages and still keep competing. There’s even the possibility to catch up a maximum of two stages in early February. That’s for the die-hards who just have to unlock that outfit, as finishing all nine stages is the only way to unlock your prize.

Zwift Companion App

The Zwift Companion App

Want to know more about the route? Check here to find out when the stages are being ridden.

Discover Zwift

This is an event for both fanatical Zwifters and beginners alike. For the latter category this is a great way to discover the different Zwift worlds. You’ll pass through all of them in one month, even to places where you would normally have to have achieved level ten to unlock. Take, for example, Alpe de Zwift: the virtual training version of the Alpe d’Huez. This challenge is part of Stage Six, and everyone who enters can have a go. Although it certainly pays dividends to train before attempting the Alpe du Zwift, the virtual version is almost as gnarly the real thing. Get ready for some real climbing!

Zwift kit

The coveted Tour de Zwift virtual cycling kit

To be able to compete you will have to sign up to Zwift and pay the monthly subscription fee (€14,99, but you can suspend your account with a month’s notice when riding outside takes over your life). Thankfully, the info will stay online for when you re-join. A smart home trainer will make the whole virtual experience that more real. Then it’s just a question of enrolling for each stage, at whatever time suits you best. Will you ride them all?