Cadel Evans Seeks Title Repeat as Tour de France Unfolds With Vast Network, Mobile Viewing Options

Australian Cadel Evans, riding in the midst of an unheralded season, will seek to successfully defend his 2011 title beginning Saturday in the 99th edition of the Tour de France — a route highlighted by more time trial distance and less severe climbing.

The race, beginning with a prologue in Liege, Belgium, will encompass 21 days of racing and two rest days and conclude with its traditional finale — circuits around the Champs Elysees in Paris on July 22.

For race enthusiasts not in attendance, the Tour de France will have an unprecedented variety of online viewing options, paced by nearly 300 hours of network broadcast, online and mobile options via the NBC Sports Network. Live race video online, however, isn’t free — it costs $29.99 for the entire race, or $4.99 per stage. Plus, you need to sign up for a Map My Ride account.

Hundreds of online cycling publications will also feature live Tour de France content, most notably in the event’s official site, and two largest cycling websites in the United States, and

The race’s official site currently has vast archived Tour de France history and daily will offer a live updates and nearly instantaneous results. and will have multi-platform journalists at the race providing daily reporting, analysis, video and a live feed text feed from each stage.

Bicycling Magazine ( will offer daily multimedia content from the Tour de France, while will offer an exhaustive list of content and global live feed options.

The riders, race staff and media will also be a large part of the social media mix. More than 100 of the entrants have Twitter accounts accessible via the Twitter handle, TDF 2012

This year’s overall title competition will suit a strong time trial rider who doesn’t necessarily possess dominating climbing skills. The race features only three uphill finishes but includes more than 100 kilometers of time trials.

Switzerland’s Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan) is favored for Saturday’s 3.8-mile prologue and Germany’s Tony Martin (OmegaPharma-Quick Step) and American teammate Levi Leipheimer will also likely be in the time trial mix.

Evans (BMC), 35, didn’t race in May and has only a victory in the three-day Criterium International in April this season. Evans will be supported by a strong teammate group featuring 17-time Tour de France participant (and hopeful 16-time finisher) George Hincapie, Philippe Gilbert of Belgium, and 23-year-old American Tejay van Garderen.

The Olympics, which begin less than a week after the conclusion of the Tour de France, has sharply altered the overall competition and other sub-plots like the best sprinter and climber contests.

Mark Cavendish (Sky) of Great Britain, who already has 20 Tour de France stage wins, has lost weight and has predicted he won’t dominate sprints as he has in recent years in favor of focusing on the Olympic road race.

Likewise, former world titlist Tom Boonen of Belgium, a six-time Tour de France stage winner, is skipping the race as is promising American Taylor Phinney (BMC). Both riders are also focusing on the Olympics.

Alberto Contador of Spain, a three-time race winner, and two-time runner-up Andy Schleck (RadioShack-Nissan), who inherited Contador’s title in 2010 when the former was post-race suspended for the using the banned stimulant clenbuterol and who also finished second twice, are not competing.

Contador’s suspension will last until the end of the summer while Schleck is recovering from a spine injury sustained in early June while racing in France. Norway’s Thor Hushovd, who won two Tour stages last year, will also be absent this year while he recovers from a virus.

Eight Americans will compete this year, with Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp) of Wenatchee, Wa., who won his first Tour de France stage last year, favored in sprinting stages and veterans Leipheimer, Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Sharp) and Chris Horner (RadioShack), all top-10 overall finishers.

Bradley Wiggins (Sky) of Great Britain, who has three wins this season, Robert Gesink (Rabobank) of the Netherlands, winner of this year’s Tour of California, and Italy’s Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale), second last year in the Tour of Italy are among a half-dozen potential overall title contenders.

After three days in Belgium, the race progresses from the English Channel across northern France to the Vosges, south to the Alps, farther south to Cap d’Agde on the Mediterranean Sea, then into the Pyrenees and conclusion in Paris.

James Raia is a California-based journalist who writes about sports and leisure. Visit his cycling site at

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