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Reminder: The Tour De France Starts Today, And It's Ridiculously Hard

By Ryan Mayer

July is typically a dead period in the sports calendar for most Americans. It's that weird in between time where the NHL and NBA have wrapped up, the MLB hasn't quite hit midway point, and the NFL/college football seasons haven't begun to ramp up yet. In that time period, it can be hard as a sports fan to find something to watch. However, what most people forget is that this time of the year is also when the world's biggest bike race takes place.

You may have forgotten about the Tour de France since the days of Lance Armstrong's rides to victory and then later his downfall, but the Tour continues and this year's event starts today.

Beginning on July 2, riders will start the first of the 21 stages of the Tour that covers 3,519 kilometers, otherwise known as 2,186 miles. To put that into perspective, to get from our offices here in New York to Salt Lake City, Utah it is approximately 2,182 miles. In other words, the Tour de France is about 4 miles longer than a trip from New York City to Salt Lake City. Yeah, that's ridiculous.

The shortest stage of the Tour is Stage 18, which is a "time trial" and covers a little over 10 miles from Sallanches to Megeve. The longest stage is Stage 4, covering approximately 147.5 miles from Saumur to Limoges. For a full look at all of the stages of the race head here. Keep in mind that while some of those stages are "flat" in which the bicyclists will be "just" covering the distance of the stage, there are also nine mountain stages where riders will find themselves not only covering the long distance, but dealing with the change in elevation as well.

If you're looking for something to tune into over the course of the next couple of weeks, remember the Tour de France will be on NBC Sports Network.

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