Joao Almeida and Ben Swift – winners of the 2nd edition of the virtual cycling race “The Challenge of Stars”

The second edition of the virtual cycling race “The Challenge of Stars by Enel”, organized by RCS Sport in cooperation with the Bkool platform, ended with the victory of 22-year-old Portuguese cyclist of the Deceuninck-Quick Step team, João Almeida, in the miners’ competition and 33-year-old British Ineos Grenadiers cyclist Ben Swift in the sprinter category.

In the Miners’ tournament, past Challenge of the Stars winner Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) reached the semifinals, beating 2020 Giro d’Italia winner Theo Geogan Hart (Ineos Grenadiers), while João Almeida defeated Belgian driver Harmajah (Lotto Soudal). Harold Tejada (Astana) won the round against Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo), while German cyclist Ben Zvihoff beat two-time Vuelta Spain winner, 2020 Tour de France medalist Primož Roglich (Jumbo-Visma). In the semifinals, Juan Almeida beat Giulio Ciccone, and Ben Zvihoff beat Harold Tejada. In the final, Juan Almeida took the victory in the fight against Zvihoff.

João Almeida, who finished 4th this year in the first Giro d’Italia Grand Tour of his career, commented on the victory in the virtual cycling race: “I have ridden Stelvio for the second time in several months. The first time during the Giro, it was harder to climb, but this time, of course, it was not easy either! It was an interesting experience against the best miners. I did not expect that I would perform so well.

I knew that Ben Zwihoff would be strong, he immediately gave full throttle. At first it was difficult to catch up with him, then I also went at full power and won. For a short period, you have to make great efforts, but it is impossible to rest. You have to try your best, but at the same time you need to keep a little energy.

This year has turned out pretty well for me. I thank the team for their continued support. Now I look forward to what the next year will bring, I hope there will be more good results! “
In the first round of the Sprinter Tournament, Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) beat Caleb Ewen (Lotto Soudal), and Arno Demar (Groupama-FDJ) beat Sasha Modolo (Alpecin-Fenix). Ben Swift beat Pascal Ackerman (Bora-hansgrohe), and Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix) beat Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-Quick Step). In the semifinals, Arnaud DeMar beat Mads Pedersen and Ben Swift beat Tim Merlier. In the final, Ben Swift overtook Arnaud Demard.

Ben Swift: “The race was tough, completely different from the open road. It was quite difficult to put in such an effort at an explosive pace, especially in December. But this type of competition is very interesting. I like it. I’m sure other riders felt the same way. 2020 was a special year for me because we drove the Giro d’Italia 2020. I worked very hard, I think I showed that I am on a completely new level. I would like to win the Corsa Rosa stage in the future ”.

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