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Olympic Channel to show Tour de Suisse-backed Digital Swiss 5

An example of Rouvy's augmented reality technology which allows riders to compete remotely (Photo: Rouvy/TdS)

Over-the-top streaming service the Olympic Channel will show free live coverage of the Tour de Suisse-backed ‘Digital Swiss 5’ e-cycling event.

The channel, which is owned by the International Olympic Committee, will broadcast the competition worldwide, excluding the US and Canada.

The IOC will also exploit the rights on the Olympic Channel’s apps for mobile, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Apple TV and the Roku platform.

The Digital Swiss 5 consists of five one-hour races taking place between April 22 and 26, and has been created by a collaboration of Tour de Suisse organisers, Cycling Unlimited; team-owned cycling promoter Velon; and virtual cycling platform Rouvy.

International rights are being distributed by the Netherlands-based boutique consultancy Sports Media Venture.

The race will also be live-streamed on Velon’s website.

The Digital Swiss 5 will enable cyclists to continue to compete against one another while remaining in isolation as a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic. Riders will be drawn from all teams competing in the Tour de Suisse, including UCI WorldTour outfits.

Rouvy’s technology uses a ‘smart’ roller trainer device, connected to cyclists’ stationary racing bikes, which adjusts the pedal resistance based on the topography of the race in question, which each individual will see in real-time augmented reality on a screen in front of them. Velon will provide live performance data, just as it would for real races.

Swiss public-service broadcaster SRG SSR will produce the world feed. It also holds the exclusive media rights in the country to the event from 2020 to 2022, which it acquired directly from Cycling Unlimited.

Deals have also been agreed with broadcasters such as L’Équipe TV (France), TV2 (Norway), ZDF (Germany), SuperSport (sub-Saharan Africa), SBS (Australia), FloSports (US), J Sports (Japan) and Eleven Sports (Belgium, Luxembourg, Italy, Poland, Portugal and Myanmar).

In the UK, commercial broadcaster ITV is currently in talks to acquire rights to the competition.