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

NBC Increases Tour de France Coverage, Including Multi-Platform Mobile Options

In addition to increased broadcast coverage, including live coverage on the first weekend, the NBC Sports Group has substantially increased its internet coverage of the race’s 99th edition.

Collectively called Tour de France LIVE, race coverage will be available online at, and through the Tour de France LIVE Mobile app.

The network will offer users two premium-subscription products which will give fans a multi-platform, all-encompassing viewing experience to the Tour.

Tour de France LIVE offers live streaming video of every stage in full HD, with the ability to pause, rewind and slow-mo the video. While watching live coverage online, viewers will also have access to a live GPS tracking map to follow the riders’ progress or to see an enhanced interactive map for each stage.

Subscribers can also personalize their Tour experience by choosing their favorite riders and teams to track throughout the Tour.

For iPhone and iPad users as a Android users fans can purchase the Tour de France LIVE Mobile app.

All the features of the online experience will be mirrored in the Tour de France LIVE Mobile app, including live video of every stage, and is sold separately from the online product

Stages 7 and 8, which will air live on NBC, will also be streamed live for free, on

Here are some more helpful links:


TV times for NBC coverage. Will probably be like NHL and have some on the former Versus channel. Check your cable provider listings.

Visit NBC Tour de France app for addition mobile viewiing options.


Texts, Twitter and Social Media Help Keep its Fans at the Front of the Pack's Laura Weislo working hard at the Tour of California press room. Credit: James Raia.

Cycling fans are as passionate as any sport’s followers, and no one knows more about how following the sport has changed than Laura Weislo, the North America editor of

Weislo is coordinating the site’s stage coverage of the Amgen Tour of California. The eight-day race, the largest in the United States, features 128 cyclists from 16 teams and riders who are Olympic medalists, Tour de France stage winners and world titlists.

In addition to daily in-depth articles on the race,, the world’s largest English language cycling site, is providing live text at least every five minutes from all of the eight stages. The seventh annual race, which began May 13 in Santa Rosa, will continue through its Los Angeles finish May 20.

The site also has a Facebook page with about 70,000 fans and an equally active Twitter following.

“Bike races now are completely different,” said Weislo, a former competitive swimmer and cyclist who joined the site in 2006. “We find that people are out there watching live streaming. They’re on Twitter on their computers. They’re looking at our live coverage. They are using that altogether and they’re having a conversation at the same time with all their followers or fans.”

At the Tour of California, has a reporter in the media caravan of the race and others who on the course reporting the news to editors who post the updates.

Weislo and other reporters and photographers contribute results, news and images shortly after each stage is complete and then additional details after conducting post-race interviews. reports on the sport globally, but selects its live coverage depending upon an event’s anticipated popularity.

“When I started in 2006 we didn’t use social media,” said Weislo. “It was about a year or two in we realized we better get in on this Facebook thing. Now it’s really important to direct people to specific stories and other content, so they don’t have to check the web site all the time to see if there’s something new. We inform them, and it’s actually a pretty big driver of traffic to the website.” live reports are not a new concept, but Weislo believes how cycling fans follow the sport has substantially changed in the past year.

“Everyone used to be sort of isolated,” Weislo explained. “There wasn’t really a way for people to converse about what was going. But now I have close to 3,000 Twitter followers. It makes it more interesting and I think it’s happened in the last year.

“I noticed last year that there was a little bit of that. But now we get people commenting about our live coverage. People get the information from us and then they correct each other on things that happen in the race. It does add to the conversation of what’s going on.”

iBike Delivers Powerhouse Fitness Plans

Velocamp has expanded its iBike platform to help transform it into a tool that everyone from the most casual of riders to ones with dreams of possibly participating in the Tour de France can take advantage of to improve themselves.

The latest from the company that has delivered a variety of cycling performance tools is called iBike Powerhouse Fitness plan, and it comes with four different plans each targeted at a different customer profile so that it does not try to shoehorn a wide variety of riders into one program and then disappoint them when it does not meet their needs.

John Hamann, Velocomp’s chief executive officer said that while there are lots of expensive tools for professions that enable them to track progress and work on better results, the more casual types are really left out.

The Powerhouse Fitness Plan uses a 5 minute ride along with monitoring equipment to measure your current physical state and then creates a custom plan within a basic framework. The framework is designed to achieve specific goals and track your usage and can modify plans if you fall behind or are advancing faster than expected.

The hardware required for the system includes the user owning an iPhone or iPod Touch, software, sensors that mount on the bike to measure power and other factors. There is a mount for the front of the handlebars where a waterproof case is attached so that the information is fed real time into the iPhone or iPod Touch.

The Plans

The plans were developed by Hunter Allen, one of the top cycling endurance instructors with specific expertise in using power meters. There is a basic program that allows you to develop a program and then track and display your results as well as provide feedback and changes to the program.

The package with the basic plan has a MSRP of $269. There are a set of six additional plans that can be downloaded for $9.99 each. Among the additional programs is one called iSlim, a program designed to help the user lose weight. Then there is ExpressFit designed for quick results; Weekend Warrior is for those that really only have two days to try and get fit each week. Then there is Brazilian Butt, designed to shape your lower body. Other programs include Heart Healthy and Kid Fit.

The Trouble with Android

iBike, as could be guessed by its name, is an Apple house and currently only supports a pair of products for its computer, Apple’s iPhone and its iPod Touch. It is not that the company wants to miss out on the hundreds of millions of users of Android and other platforms, Hamann said.

Apple has a consistent form factor while the Android form factors, including connectors and overall device sizes vary all over the map. By just supporting Apple it simplifies stocking for both the company and its retail outlets, but he does not rule out moving to new platforms in the future.

‘Tour Tracker’ App Brings Race Action to Cycling Fans’ Phones and iPads

The Tour Tracker app shows not only live racing action, but also a wealth of race-related information, like elevation profiles and current standings. Credit: Tour Tracker.

The traditional time sacrifice made by cycling fans — hours spent waiting on a remote hillside for only a brief glimpse of the riders as they pass by — is now history, thanks to a revolutionary app that brings full live race action to phones and handheld devices.

At the recent USA Pro Cycling Challenge in Colorado, many fans were seen alongside race courses with mobile devices in hand, watching both the live race in front of them as well as the television-quality coverage provided by the Tour Tracker application, a free app for iPhones, iPads and Android devices.

Like the live TV coverage from the Versus cable channel, the Tour Tracker app brought live in-race coverage to fans’ mobile platforms, allowing people to both see the race in person — if for only a few seconds — while still following every second of action via their portable devices.

“It’s the perfect example of technology really solving a problem, instead of just being a cool device to play with,” said Rob O’Dea, one of the two brains behind Tour Tracker. As a professionally published cycling photographer (as well as a longtime successful marketing executive), O’Dea knows well the problem cycling fans have traditionally endured when it comes to watching races live: You might spend hours by the side of some remote mountain pass with no idea what was going on until you saw the racers quickly pass you by.

With the Tour Tracker app, all that is changed since fans can basically watch an entire stage unfold from start to finish, combining the best of the couch-potato TV-watcher and on-the-scene worlds. Sponsored by electronics retailer and pro cycling team sponsor Radio Shack for the USA Pro Challenge, the “Shack Tracker” was the buzz of the crowd lining the streets in Aspen and Vail during the two USA Pro stops there in late August, with people watching the race on their phones and iPads while waiting for the cyclists to arrive at their viewing spot.

Cycling fans in Aspen watch the USA Pro Challenge on an iPad while waiting for the racers to reach town. Credit: MSR.

Though Tour Tracker isn’t a brand new phenomenon — “it’s an overnight success that has been years in the making,” joked O’Dea — it’s safe to say that the combination of application maturity and great mobile-viewing platforms like the iPad are the perfect storm for an app that’s perfect for its intended audience — zealous cycling fans who want to watch both the entire race and the few seconds of live action, who can now do both things at once.

Close-up of the Tour Tracker app in action on an iPad. Credit: MSR.

Though O’Dea won’t give out audience download-number specifics (he says those stats are the ownership of the individual races like the USA Pro Challenge or the Tour de France, which Tour Tracker licenses its app to on a race-by-race basis) it’s a safe guess that it has probably already attracted hundreeds of thousands if not millions of viewers who learned of the app’s existence while watching the Tour de France or the USA Pro Challenge on TV this year.

Though this year’s app was already chock-full of important race information beyond the live action — such as elevation profiles, maps and even an fan-interaction forum via Twitter — O’Dea said that he and Tour Tracker co-founder Allan Padgett (one of the original architects of Acrobat, now part of software giant Adobe) have even bigger plans for 2012. For cycling fans, that’s like Christmas in July — knowing that they may never again miss a moment of the Tour de France, no matter where they may be.

A race fan follows the live coverage while watching course-side in downtown Vail during the USA Pro Cycling Challenge. Credit: MSR.

2011 Tour de France Features All Access, GPS


Cycling legend Bernard Hinault. (Photo courtesy

All cycling, all the time, for a price. NBC Sports plans expanded mobile sports coverage of the 2011 Tour de France, with $14.99 Android, iPhone and iPad applications that provide unlimited live video streaming and Global Positioning System (GPS) tracking of every rider in every race.

According to an AllThingsD report, NBC recognizes that sports coverage must expand every year to meet the sophisticated demands of the mobile sports consumer. coordinating producer Tom Seeley told AllThingsD that it is “not acceptable” for sports programmers to offer the same services as the previous year. 

In 2010, NBC Sports’ cable channel Versus offered some GPS tracking of riders, but this year’s broadcasting will provide detailed tracking of every rider of every race. For those paying the freight for the Android, iPad and iPhone apps, there will be up to 14 hours of live video daily. For app-less sports consumers, NBC will provide maps, standings, rider profiles and video highlights.      

From now until July 11, NBC will charge $14.99 for the Android, iPad and iPhone apps. The price will drop $5 to $9.99 for week No. 2 coverage (July 12-16) and final week coverage (July 17-25) will cost $6.99.

Subscriptions for live video over the Internet will be $4.95 daily and $29.95 for the entire event.