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Tour de France Begins Saturday


The 2007 Tour de France cycling race gets under way on Saturday in London. The prologue is an eight-kilometer individual time trial through the center of the city.

The first full stage will also be in England, as on Sunday the riders will leave London and pedal 203 kilometers over flat countryside to the historic city of Canterbury.

Two British cyclists, Bradley Wiggins and David Millar, have high hopes for a good showing before the home fans. The 30-year-old Wiggins is an Olympic track cycling gold medalist and has been training in the middle of the night on the roads in London to prepare for the prologue. In the daytime those roads are clogged with traffic.

This year's tour begins under a cloud of doping allegations and confessions. Bjarne Riis, the 1996 winner, admitted he cheated and other riders have been caught using illegal substances or admitted using banned drugs.

Last year's Tour de France winner, American Floyd Landis, awaits a ruling that could strip him of last year's crown. His case for allegedly doping is to be settled in the next few weeks by a United States panel of judges.

Whoever loses - either Landis or the U.S. Anti Doping Agency - is almost certain to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.