Tour de France route unveiled

Sports Network

, Last Updated: 11:43 AM ET

PARIS -- The route for the 2011 Tour de France was unveiled Tuesday and cycling's most prestigious event will include 21 stages covering 3,471 kilometers or 2,517 miles.

It all starts July 2 near the Atlantic Ocean in the Vendee region with a 191-kilometre first stage. The race then moves up the west coast of France into Brittany before a jaunt to Normandy. The Pyrenees will host the first serious mountain stages in the Tour's second week, with a trip through the Alps -- including a stop in the Italian town of Pinerolo -- in the third week.

There will be two individual time trials and rest days on the second and third Mondays.

The Tour will conclude with the traditional ride along the Champs Elysees in Paris on July 24.

Whether three-time champion Alberto Contador of Spain is allowed to defend his title from 2010 is still in question. Contador, who also won in 2007 and 2009, is being investigated for a possible doping violation. He claims a positive test for clenbuterol was a case of food contamination caused by tainted beef from Spain.

Contador won the 2010 Tour by 39 seconds over Andy Schleck, and has changed teams for 2011, leaving Astana to ride for Saxo Bank.


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