Tour de France kicks off on Ten Sports on Sunday

MUMBAI: Ten Sports, the world?s number one sports channel for south Asians, will telecast live action from Tour de France, arguably the toughest sporting event of the world.

This year?s Tour de France assumes special significance as it will be the first time after seven years that a new rider will have the honour of wearing the yellow jersey. After an emotional farewell last year, the legendary American cyclist Lance Armstrong will hand over the crown to a new rider following his retirement.

The 93rd Tour de France starts on 2 July from Strasborg in neighbouring Germany, and will be made up of a prologue and 20 stages, covering a total distance of 3,600 kilometres. The Tour finishes at Champs-Elysees in Paris on Sunday 23 July. The cyclists will have only two days of rest in between ? on Mondays 10 and 17 July.

The break-up of the 20 stages are nine flat stages, four medium mountain stages, five mountain stages and two individual time-trial stages. Ten Sports will be there to bring action everyday from the scenic French urban and countryside as the riders are tested with extreme conditions.

Except for the first three stages of the Tour that clash with the live coverage of India in the West Indies, the remaining 17 stages will be live on Ten Sports, with the coverage starting at 6 pm from 5 July onwards. Complete coverage of the first three stages will be telecast at 3:30 am and 11:30 am IST the following day.

After its absence last year, the prologue (of seven kms) time trial returns to make the shorter time trial specialists happy. The prologue will be held at Strasborg today 1 July.

Among the favourites to follow in the footsteps of Lance Armstrong are the 32-year-old German Jan Ullrich of Team T-Mobile, who won the race in 1997 and has already sounded a warning to his rivals by winning the Tour of Switzerland this year; Italian Ivan Basso of Team CSC, considered by none other than Armstrong as the rider most likely to take over his crown, and Alejandro Valverde of Spain, who has won two titles this year.

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