Le Tour begins on July 1, Stage 1 is a time trial in Dusseldorf, Germany. The three week tour will cover 3540 kilometers and include 9 flat stages, 5 hilly stages, 5 mountain stages, and two rest days.
For non- cycling fans, Le Tour is about as interesting as watching grass grow. For those of us who love the sport, Le Tour is a once-a-year riveting competition. There are other great bicycle races — the Giro de Italia, La Vuelta de Espana — but Le Tour is the greatest, the pinnacle of all cycling competitions, the race all professional cyclists want to win. To wear the yellow jersey on the podium in Paris is the highest honor in the sport.
NBC Sports runs Le Tour live in the early morning hours, then repeats starting at about 10am, then runs a two hour program at night. If the day has been really spectacular, sometimes they show it in the afternoon too. I’ve been known to watch the whole thing twice on a given day.
A few years ago, when my friend Jane was working for Doctors without Borders in Paris, we went to the final stage on the Champs Elysees. It was the most thrilling sports event in my entire life.
I took my official Le Tour hat out of the closet, and will wear it for the next three weeks. And I will be up early every morning. glued to the TV.