As the 2010 Tour de France spins up and the speculations, predictions and intrigue start to weave their tangled webs, many of us are trying to figure out the best way to absorb this years Tour.

Do we set our PVR each day – consciously blocking out internet race coverage and forewarning coworkers to keep details to themselves? Do we desperately scour to keep up on coverage through RSS readers and Twitter? Do we suddenly come down with an illness that only allows us to come to work in the afternoon?

Thankfully, Versus is ensuring that these difficult decisions aren’t necessary with their 2010 Tour Tracker.

Last year I detailed what you could expect in the 2009 Versus Tour Tracker and it appears as though the fine crew has been hard at work behind the scenes to offer, not only better coverage, but some sincerely cool ‘add-ons’ to your experience.

There are essentially three aspect to this years Tour Tracker, the tracker itself, the mobile counterpart, and the MapMyRide interactivity.

The 2010 Versus Tour Tracker

I know last years Tour tracker was pretty damn solid, and I expect no-less from this year:

  • Live streaming video of the tour in high definition from any online or mobile device anytime
  • Pause, rewind, and fast forward to guarantee you don’t miss any epic moments
  • Follow every stride of the race with real-time GPS tracking, minute-to-minute updates on overall standings and rider positions
  • Customize and personalize your viewing by setting alerts for your favorite players and using the new timeline feature to jump instantly to key moments in the race

The Tour Tracker iPhone App

I’m excited to see how the iPhone app shapes up, since that will be key for me staying up-to-date while I’m in meetings… I haven’t downloaded it yet (I don’t know if it’s ready for public consumption), but it looks like it’s going to have some pretty fun features as well:

  • Access to highlight videos, detailed race results and standings as well as full course profiles
  • Real-time Twitter updates to stay informed about what’s happening in the race even when you can’t watch
  • Access live streaming video on 3G or WiFi—without commercial interruption and the ability to access the full stage immediately following its conclusion via the on-demand feature (with a one-time upgrade of $14.99)
  • Real-time GPS tracking showing riders are on the course, including time gaps and breakaways, as well as minute-by-minute updates for each stage (for the video coverage)
  • Customized alerts for breaking news, updates on their favorite riders and for notifications before the start and conclusion of the race

2010 Le Tour Challenge

The one extra bit of icing on the cake for this years Tour Tracker is coming out of a partnership with MapMyRide that let’s you pit your measly spaghetti legs against the rippling quadriceps of your favorite Tour riders:

  • Ride your bike on any given day of the tour and track your distance, time and pace either manually, using the MapMyRide app, or using a GPS device
  • Submit your data to and the site will convert your information into “virtual time” to see how you would have compared to that day’s stage of the tour
  • Win prizes by automatically being entered into daily drawings—the more days you ride and submit your data, the more chances you have to win!

The nice thing is that the MapMyRide functionality and prize entry is all free! You’ve always known you were slow, but now it’s time to find out just how hard these guys would drop you in a ride ;-)

There will be “virtual” competitions for custom designed jerseys, a handful of Cannondale bikes, “thousands of dollars” in additional prizes, and a trip to Paris for the final stage. So it’ll be fun regardless, and you’ll have a chance to actually pick up some pretty wicked stuff.

If you’re lucky enough to live in the US and subscribe to Versus, then you’ll be treated to great coverage 14 hours a day, but for those of us in Canada, we’ll have to rely on a piggyback of the Versus Tour de France coverage, and if memory serves the Canadian coverage was broadcast live (ie. very first thing in the morning) with highlights in the evenings, and if you’re anything like me there are two problems with that scenario:

  1. I have a job and work during the day
  2. I need to know what’s going on as it happened… Watching it after the fact is simply not acceptable ;-)

I’ll probably still watch the highlights in the evenings (there is something to be said for seeing it on the ‘big screen’ after all), but I think the Versus Tour Tracker will definitely find it’s way into my daily routine… I’m just lucky enough that I have a job where I’ve got my computer on me most of the time and should be able to stream things in the background.

Right now you can get access for the entire Tour for $29.95 (which is actually $5 cheaper than last year), but the option to buy individual stages is gone, which actually surprises me a bit. It could be that they opted out of this since most viewers were only buying the mountain stages, but if it were up to me (and it should be) I would offer four different pricing packages:

  • The full meal deal
  • Per stage
  • A ‘climbers’ package (ie. all the mountain stages)
  • A ‘sprinters’ package (ie. all the flat stages)

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m starting to get stoked, and I’m not even a ‘real’ roadie!

Also – Just in case you aren’t sure who you’re backing in this year’s tour I found a handy-dandy flowchart to help you make your decision, so now you have no excuses ;-)