Versus Moves into Big Gear with Multi-Platform Tour de France Offerings

The 97th Tour de France gets rolling this weekend and Versus is in full multi-platform mode to cover the event. With an increased online presence, a new iPhone app, and alternate international feeds streaming in HD, Versus is giving fans all new ways to follow the epic three-week stage race.

Online, will once again serve as the official Tour de France Website in the U.S. The Tour Tracker, available for $29.95, will provide HD-quality live streaming with DVR capability and on-demand access to the video after each stage. The online stream will offer different perspectives from the on-air coverage, as viewers will have access to an alternate international feed that is not broadcast on Versus. The Tracker also offers a map with GPS tracking, minute-by-minute updates on overall standings and rider positions, live chat, and Twitter capabilities.

On the mobile side, Versus is offering two iPhone apps to keep fans engaged, a free version and a paid upgrade. The free app, available for both iPhone 3.0 and 4.0, provides access to highlight videos, detailed race results and standings, as well as full course profiles. The app also features real-time Twitter updates.

The paid version, available for $14.99, offers access to live streaming video on 3G or WiFi, without commercial interruption, and on-demand access to the full stage video after the conclusion of each day of racing. GPS tracking will enhance the stream to show rider positions on the course, including time gaps and breakaways. Users can also create customized alerts for breaking news, updates on selected riders, and notifications before the start and conclusion of each stage. The app is currently available through iTunes and the iPhone app store.

For its 10th year of television coverage, Versus will build off of the success of 2009, during which average viewership was up 98% over the 2008 race. This year, Versus will air an average of 14 hours of race action daily, all in HD, throughout the 2000-mile competition.

The network is adding cameras to all U.S. team busses – including Team RadioShack, HTC-Columbia, BMC, and Garmin-Transitions – which will give viewers an inside look at the teams’ daily meetings. Cameras will also be placed inside U.S. team cars during the race, to show how strategies are carried out. Versus will also show on-screen biometrics information showing the current speed, heart rate, and wattage of riders throughout the Tour.

A new pointer feature on the telecast will allow viewers to identify and focus on specific riders in the 200-person peloton. A Lance Armstrong-specific Lance Tracker will help viewers quickly find the seven-time champion.

Versus is also producing a number of feature segments that will be shown throughout the race. To preview Stage 17, the network will show a history of the Tour de France through the Pyrenees Mountains. A one-hour special highlighting the epic rivalry between Armstrong and defending champion Alberto Contador will also be featured, and a multi-part series featuring a behind-the-scenes look at Contador in his hometown will air throughout the Tour.

This year’s coverage will also feature Cycling 101 features to help viewers understand the sport of cycling, a look back at the history of American cycling, and training tips from Team RadioShack physiologist Allen Lim.

Versus will have a crew of 60 working on the Tour throughout the 23-day race, which begins on July 3 at 11:30 a.m. ET.

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