Esports round-up: Mel C nearly beats Chris Froome as Stoffel Vandoorne take Formula E title

Chris Froome  Olly Murs

One of the more positive elements of this lockdown could be the resurgence of the humble bicycle in this country, as the public are urged to get pedalling.

Former Spice Girl Melanie C took that to the extreme by nearly beating four-time Tour de France champion Chris Froome, who had inspired a host of celebrities to stay ahead of him around an erupting volcano.

Yeah, it wasn’t real, obviously. It was Sky Sports’ The Race – Wheels for Heroes, a charity race held on exercise bikes, in which participants were given a head start of up to 13 minutes on the 22.9km course and Froome had to hunt them down live on TV.

You might think singer Olly Murs, ex-Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs and former England cricketer Kevin Pietersen, amongst others, would make a convincing line-up in a World Tour cycling team. But either way Froome started last.

Given he mopped up most of the 10 celebrities in typically polite and unspectacular fashion, it was the now 46-year-old ‘Sporty Spice’ who impressed most. Pulling away from women’s England and Manchester City captain Steph Houghton, Mel C stayed well in the lead before being caught by Froome and Pietersen on their multi-player home online cycling programmes with under a kilometre to go.

Admittedly, Froome may have been sandbagging a little for effect, given the way he stormed past the pair, but it’s all good conditioning for the coming season – which may or may not involve active lava flows.

Stoff of dreams

The Formula E Race At Home Challenge didn’t start particularly well for Stoffel Vandoorne a few weeks back – suffering several spectacular crashes through no fault of his own after consistently qualifying on pole position – but the Mercedes driver clinched the title after finally finding some luck in the final race held on a virtual Berlin-Tempelhof circuit on Sunday.

The Former McLaren Formula 1 driver finished second behind Nissan E-Dams’ Oliver Rowland in what was the second event of the weekend.

The Belgian edged poor old Pascal Wehrlein of Mahindra for the title, whose turn it was to have some bad luck after he was spun around at the start by Vandoorne and agonisingly watched the whole field, and his chances, pass him by.

Before you blame Vandoorne, he himself was pushed into Wehrlein by Nissan E-Dams’ Sebastian Buemi, who was pushed into Vandoorne by Venturi’s Edoardo Mortara, who was… yeah, you get the idea. It was yet another epic pile-up which has been witnessed in every race across this eight-week lockdown challenge.

Still, it’s all just fun and games, isn’t it?

This series may have gained a reputation for spectacular racing, a frustrating lack of damage to the cars and a few drivers’ names in lights, but don’t forget Daniel Abt’s involvement wasn’t much use. He was sacked from his ‘real life’ race seat by Audi for not taking it seriously enough after getting another sim racer to take his place and impersonate him.

Stoffel Vandoorne clinches Formula E Race At Home Challenge title

Williams set for another F1 title

Talking of title battles, Formula 1’s Virtual Grand Prix eracing season is heading towards a conclusion too, following Sunday’s Virtual Azerbaijan GP, which was won by the ever-more dominant George Russell in his Williams.

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc may have set the standard with victories early during lockdown, but nobody can stop Russell at the moment, who takes the championship lead and his third win in a row, ahead of next weekend’s decider at a virtual Circuit Gilles Villenueve in Montreal.

Of the celebrities in this race, it was the battle of the footballers – and there’s no stopping goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois of Real Madrid, who’s been plugging away near the back of the grid for weeks, earning himself a creditable 11th place in his Alfa Romeo, ahead of F1 drivers Pierre Gasly, Sergio Perez and the now-hapless Leclerc.

Impressive, and well ahead of AC Milan goalie Gianluigi Donnarumma’s Toro Rosso (16th) and Manchester City defender Aymeric Laporte’s Renault (18th).

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