Thursday, July 06, 2006
I don't know about you, but with the action and excitement heating up in the Tour de France, it's hard to keep track of exactly where everybody is riding. When you're trying to understand the Herculean effort that these cyclists go through in stages like L'Alpe d'Huez, or which streets in Paris the final stage will pass through, 2D maps just aren't as compelling.
But now you can make sense of it all by flying around the route yourself. A new KML file available on the official Tour de France website lets you see the entire course overlaid on satellite imagery for Google Earth.
This special Google Earth tour is available in French, German, and Spanish as well as English. Pick your language on the Le Tour site, and once you've done that, look for the "Tour on Google Earth" link in the lefthand navigation under Route. Then you can see the starts, the finishes, even information on each of the cities along the way. Just move the KML file into your "My Places" folder on Google Earth, and follow along day by day. (Did you know that Huy has the unique privilege of hosting stages for the Tour de France, the Giro and the Tour of Belgium this year? We didn't either.)
Be sure to try out the tilt feature to see the truly daunting magnitude of all of those climbs where riders are battling it out in this year's wide-open race. "Beyond Category" climbs? No thanks -- we'll stick to the flats and leave those verticals to the pros!