The 96th edition of the Tour de France has begun, and this year’s event promises to be a classic, with nine American riders in the field (including four on Boulder’s Garmin-Slipstream squad); the best stage racer in the world (Alberto Contador, who missed last year’s Tour); and the return of a guy you might have heard of named Lance Armstrong.

Follow the progress of local boys Garmin-Slipstream–in particular, general classification hope Christian Vande Velde–at daily. For those early risers, television coverage began this morning at 7:30 AM on Versus.