Tabbed as the biggest cycling event in the world and perhaps the most grueling sporting event of any kind, the nearly month-long Tour de France will begin on Saturday, much to the delight of cycling fans across the world.
The Tour de France became wildly popular during Lance Armstrong's run of dominance, but has since been sullied by doping allegations against many top riders.
Efforts continue to be made to clean up the sport, and perhaps cycling fans can be a bit more confident this year than they have been in past years that everything is on the straight and narrow. Whatever the case, many of the world's most impressive athletes will be competing in the Tour and it is truly a unique event.
Here is all the information you need to know regarding where to watch the Tour de France online and on television, as well as which cyclists are likely to be big-time players in the closing stages.
Where: Various locations in France
When: Saturday, June 30 - Sunday, July 22
Watch: NBC Sports Network, NBC
Live Stream: TourdeFrance.NBCSports.com
Last year, at the age of 34, Cadel Evans became one of the oldest winners in the history of the Tour de France.
The 35-year-old Aussie will look to repeat this year and is considered one of the favorites to win it all. Evans is a veteran of the sport and a true grinder, so he is the type of guy who can overcome adversity and win.
Evans was originally a mountain biker and he even competed in mountain biking at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. There are five mountain stages in the Tour this year, and that is where Evans figures to make most of his progress.
He isn't the best when it comes to flat stages, but if he is good enough in the rough terrain, then he has a real chance.
There may be no more accomplished cyclist in this year's Tour de France than Bradley Wiggins, and that is why most observers consider him to be the odds-on favorite.
Wiggins has six career Olympic medals, including three golds, and on top of that, he seems to be peaking at the right time after winning the Criterium du Dauphine.
Wiggins' best finish in the Tour de France was fourth back in 2009, but everything is coming together for him to be a true contender in 2012.
At 32 years of age, Wiggins is pretty much near the end of his cycling prime, so he will certainly want to strike while the iron is hot. The Belgian star may not get many more opportunities to win the Tour de France, so he needs to seize the opportunity.
Although Vincenzo Nibali isn't quite at the level of Evans and Wiggins in terms of expectations, he is a cyclist who has the tools and the pedigree to win the Tour de France this year.
The Italian hasn't competed in the Tour since finishing seventh in 2009, but he has won the prestigious Tour of Spain since and should be a major factor.
Like Evans, Nibali's biggest strength is his ability to make up ground and create space in the mountains.
Nibali is considerably younger than many other cyclists at 27, so perhaps that will help him in terms of stamina.
Nibali isn't receiving a ton of hype heading into the event, but that could bode well for him as he won't be feeling as much pressure as some of the other riders.
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