The 2011 Tour De France kicks off on Saturday July 2 and the Bay Area will be represented by Levi Leipheimer. While Leipheimer has never won the Tour, he has claimed four top-ten finishes and finished third in 2007. Leipheimer is coming off a huge comeback victory in the Tour De Suisse two weeks ago. Leipheimer trailed by nearly two minutes heading into the individual time trial that wrapped up the race. Leipheimer did not win the final stage but he did overcome the 1:59 deficit for first place overall and emerge victorious.
As Leipheimer prepares to do battle in the 2011 Tour De France, he will face a brutal course that will challenge every skill in a cyclist's arsenal. The 21 stages of the Tour will cover a distance of 3,430.5 kilometers, or 2,131 miles. There will be ten flat stages, six mountain stages with four summit finishes, three medium mountain stages, a 42.5 kilometer individual time-trial stage and a 23 kilometer team-trial stage.
Over the course of the 21 stags, the mighty le Galibier will be climbed twice and there will be 23 level two, one or highest level mountain passes or summit finishes. Just to be kind the race will also have two rest days. The longest stage of the race will be stage six when the cyclists race 226.5 kilometers (141 miles) from Dinan to Lisieux. The shortest stage of the race will be the team time trial in stage two at Les Essarts. It will be 23 kilometers (14 miles). The shortest non-time trial stage is the finish from Creteil to the Champs-Élysées in Paris.
The NBC Sports Group will be providing around the clock coverage on television and online. VERSUS will be providing the preliminary live television coverage and that will be followed by additional reairings on NBC and VERSUS. The time difference means most stages will be occurring in the morning hours. For Bay Area cycling fans hoping to provide some live rooting for Levi Leipheimer, it will mean wakeup calls of 3:30-5:00 am in the pacific time zone. However, numerous re-airings will occur throughout the day on VERSUS and/or NBC. We'll have a full tv schedule shortly.
In addition to VERSUS and NBC television coverage, NBCSports.com will again provide a live online stream through their subscription service Tour De France All-Access. This provides live video of every stage, live GPS tracking of every rider on an interactive map, and a chance to follow your favorite riders throughout the Tour. The subscription service is $29.95 for the entire Tour De France.
We'll be here for the entire race providing news updates and stage previews and recaps. For more in-depth discussion on the 2011 Tour De France, head over to Podium Cafe. In the meantime, here is an official Tour De France preview video of the route riders will face in their bid to win the most famous cycling race on the planet. That is followed by a brief rundown of all 21 stages.
|1||2-Jul||Passage du Gois - Mont des Alouettes||191.5 km (119 mi)||Flat stage|
|2||3-Jul||Les Essarts - Les Essarts||23 km (14 mi)||Team Time Trial|
|3||4-Jul||Olonne-sur-Mer - Redon||198 km (123 mi)||Flat stage|
|4||5-Jul||Lorient - Mûr-de-Bretagne||172.5 km (107 mi)||Flat stage|
|5||6-Jul||Carhaix - Cap Fréhel||164.5 km (102 mi)||Flat stage|
|6||7-Jul||Dinan - Lisieux||226.5 km (141 mi)||Flat stage|
|7||8-Jul||Le Mans - Chateauroux||218 km (135 mi)||Flat stage|
|8||9-Jul||Aigurande - Super-Besse||189 km (117 mi)||Medium-mountain|
|9||10-Jul||Issoire - Saint-Flour||208 km (129 mi)||Medium-mountain|
|10||12-Jul||Aurillac - Carmaux||158 km (98 mi)||Flat stage|
|11||13-Jul||Blaye-les-Mines - Lavaur||167.5 km (104 mi)||Flat stage|
|12||14-Jul||Cugnaux - Luz-Ardiden||211 km (131 mi)||Mountain stage|
|13||15-Jul||Pau - Lourdes||152.5 km (95 mi)||Mountain stage|
|14||16-Jul||Saint-Gaudens - Plateau de Beille||168.5 km (105 mi)||Mountain stage|
|15||17-Jul||Limoux - Montpellier||192.5 km (120 mi)||Flat stage|
|16||19-Jul||Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux - Gap||162.5 km (101 mi)||Medium-mountain|
|17||20-Jul||Gap - Pinerolo||179 km (111 mi)||Mountain stage|
|18||21-Jul||Pinerolo - Col du Galibier / Serre Chevalier||200.5 km (125 mi)||Mountain stage|
|19||22-Jul||Modane - L'Alpe d'Huez||109.5 km (68 mi)||Mountain stage|
|20||23-Jul||Grenoble - Grenoble||42.5 km (26 mi)||Individual time trial|
|21||24-Jul||Creteil - Paris (Champs-Élysées)...||95 km (59 mi)||Flat stage