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Ovo Energy offers cycling fans the chance to test themselves on the Women's Tour's most gruelling hill climb in VR experience

Fans at each stage can try the Derbyshire part of the Tour through a VR experience

As Ovo Energy embarks on its first sports sponsorship the energy supplier remains more focused on championing its ethos than racking up customers, a strategy which it believes will resonate with audiences through what it calls a “natural fit” with the Women’s Tour.

The title sponsorship with the Tour is now underway with the five-stage cycling race gearing up to pass through Atherstone today (9 June) before hitting Chesterfield and Derbyshire tomorrow (10 June) and finishing in London on 12 June.

As part of its involvement in the event, the brand is offering spectators the chance to tackle one of the Tour's most gruelling hill climbs - the climb to Middleton Top in Derbyshire- through a virtual reality experience.

Ovo Energy’s decision to become the title sponsor is part of the brand’s efforts to align itself with organisations that share similar values to its own business. As a challenger to the big energy companies, Ovo pushes its smart meters and green credentials ith its tariffs consisting of at least 33% renewable electricity.

“Cycling is a smart way of getting about, it’s more sustainable and is good for the world and good for people,” said Adam Rostom, chief marketing officer at the company. “We are all about those ideals on a larger scale, so we see it as something of a natural fit for us.”

At each of the stages Ovo Energy has set up a VR experience complete with a stationary bike, challenging cycling fans to complete the climb in the fastest time possible for the chance to win a replica Ovo Energy leader's jersey.

The challenge features 360-degree video which takes users along the route with professional cyclist Jessie Walker narrating the ride with tips, tactics and encouragement. To make the experience more immersive the footage speeds up the faster the cyclist pedals with times recorded on the leaderboard throughout each day. The overall female, male and child winners at each stage will receive a replica OVO Energy leader's jersey.

In addition to the VR stunt the company has also vowed to donate three trees to the local community as part of its efforts to promote a sustainable future.

The tree planting initiative is already part of Ovo’s business and by bringing it to the Tour the brand hopes to show people what they are doing away from the sport.

“For each person who signs up to our greener tariff we plant five trees, so in the case of the tour we just thought it would help bring more of a local benefit,” said Rostom. “We work with a charity called I Dig Trees so they go out and plant trees in the local area. Last year 270,000 trees planted in the UK just from our core energy customers.”

Through the partnership with the women’s Tour, Ovo Energy hopes that by adding value to the sport it can strike a meaningful connection with fans whose interests in cycling will naturally lead them to want to know more about the brand.

“We know that we have a superior offering and we are a principled and smart business which you can trust,” said Rostom. “With this partnership we want people to know our message, rather than jump down their throats.”

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