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Google Earth Rides Tour De France

David A. Utter
Staff Writer
Published: 2006-07-05

The Google Earth application allows bicycling fans to follow the latest version of the legendary race from their computers, a much easier task than biking up the Pyrenees.

The first Tour de France took place in 1903, with 60 participants, a wide margin of victory, and no Internet. This year, nearly two hundred riders started the Tour. And the Internet brings the race to the PC.

Through the Google Earth application, viewers in the US and elsewhere can take a look at the race from a unique perspective. "You will no longer miss anything: reliefs, stage cities, results, departures or arrival lines," the Tour's web page about the Google Earth view noted.

Once the Tour de France route has been saved to "My Places" in Google Earth, course information will be automatically updated. The unofficial Google Earth Blog explained how this will work:

The author of the Tour de France Google Earth file, showing the routes of the stages of this year's race, has now added an ability to provide live tracking of race progress. Download the TdF network link, then open the "Tour de France 2006" places folder and turn on "Live TDF". You will see a red bike showing the current progress of the race, and it indicates the distance travelled and local time stamp.

While Google Earth has been a successful application for Google, other attempts to implement a similar service have been met with mixed results. Microsoft's Virtual Earth now powers the company's Local Live online service, for one example.

France has tried implementing a mapping service similar to the offerings from Google and Microsoft. Although its debut promptly crashed on launch, and its numerous blurred-out areas have lead some French bloggers to call its view that of "Emmenthal country," (Emmenthan being a cheese with holes), it has moved on to be a widely viewed application according to a report in the Times Online.

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About the Author:
David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

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