Live coverage of this year's Tour is available worldwide.
Live coverage of this year's Tour is available worldwide.

The 98th Tour de France started on Saturday 2 July, with 22 teams racing over 3,430km in 21 stages, culminating with a finish at the Champs-Élysées in Paris -- a full list of dates is available here.

Live online coverage of the Tour is available in the UK and Europe via Eurosport, with subscriptions starting from £3.99. Full race highlights are available every evening on ITV.

In the US, the tour will be shown live on Versus, with repeats and highlights being aired on NBC. The entire event is also available online. NBC is selling a Tour de France all access pass for $29.95, which provides HD video of every stage of the race all the way through to the final leg, when cyclists reach Paris on 24 July. Read more at NBC, via GigaOm

For viewers in other countries, has a comprehensive list of channels showing the Tour in other regions.

Tour anniversary

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of Tour founder Henri Desgrange's ride over the Galibier in the French Alps, this year the riders will twice climb the most-visited pass in the race's history, reports the BBC.

There are two main changes this year that will alter the way points are distributed:

    • In an effort to involve sprinters in more than just the daily finish, 20 green jersey points -- up from six last year -- will be on offer in a single intermediate sprint each day and points will also be awarded to the next 14 finishers.
    • The polka dot jersey, worn by the best climber, will see double points being awarded only for crossing finishing lines at the summit of category two and harder climbs.

The defending champion Alberto Contador of Spain is a strong pre-Tour favourite along with Luxembourg's Andy Schleck -- find all the Tour de France 2011 teams listed here.

The appearance of Contador is marked with controversy as the rider awaits the outcome of an appeal against a provisional ban; after failing a clenbuterol test.