I, like just about every other American, only cared about the Tour de France when Lance Armstrong was winning every year. Once that was over (and he turned out to be a lying, cheating jerk) I stopped caring. Seriously, if I wanted to see people riding around on their bikes all the time I would move to Portland!
Still, there is a world outside of the United States, and they, apparently, really love watching people peddle around. So, in honor of the 100th anniversary of the Tour de France, Google has set up an interactive website to allow normal people to experience what is like to be in the race.
"This year, the Tour de France is celebrating its 100th edition with a special route, from Corsica to Les Champs-Elysées, giving people around the world the chance to admire beautiful sights as well as amazing athletic feats," Raphaël Goumain, Consumer Marketing Director of France at Google, wrote.
To do this, Google has set up YouTube channel, with videos that include the official route of the 100th edition of the Tour de France in 3D; a Google+ page, with updates about the race, as well as images; and an Android app that provides details on the race in real time, as well as news on the race, live gaps on the stage maps and profiles, and the classifications and results at the end of each stage.
But the coolest thing that Google has done is Your Tour, which actually lets users interactively ride the different stages of the race using Google Maps and Street View. By scrolling with their mouse, users are able to ride each stage of the route.
Users also have the ability to switch to a map mode, to see where they are on each route.
For some reason Google did not release this site until over a week after the race officially started on June 29th, so it is letting users access the three stages that have already been covered by the actually riders: the Grand Depart from Port-Vecchio to Bastia; Nice; and Pyreness. All future stages, such as Mont-Saint-Michel, the Alps and the final stage at from Versailles to Champs-Elysees, will be remain locked until those stages actually begin.
Google is also letting users choose three "Legendary Stages": one from 1903, one from 1954 and one from 1964. So far, only the 1903 race has been unlocked.
Like I said, I'm not really into cycling, but I think this is pretty cool. And its just the latest original idea to come out of the Google Street View project.
Last month, Google unveiled a "street view" of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, which is, at At 2,717 feet and 160 floors, the tallest building in the world. It is the first time Google captured a skyscraper on Street View. It allows people to tour the building, both from the inside and the outside, without ever having to ever visit it by offering a 360-degree panoramic of numerous indoor and outdoor locations of the building.
Then, Google announced that it was starting a program that will allow third party organizations to take the Street View Trekker, which is a wearable backpack that is outfitted with a camera system on top to capture areas that vehicles can't go,
The program also revealed its first partner: the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau (HVCB), which has already started to use the Trekker to take photos of popular sites on the Hawaiian islands. Photos will be taken of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Mauna Loa Observatory, Onomea Bay, Akaka Falls, Waipio Valley, Pololu Valley and more. These photos will be then be included on Google Maps in the future.
(Image source: http://googlepolicyeurope.blogspot.co.uk)