Le Tour sans Lance

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SCOTT JAGOW: The Tour de France kicks off in Strasbourg tomorrow without seven-time champion Lance Armstrong. So, will American viewers even bother watching? Here's Alex Cohen.

ALEX COHEN: Lance Armstrong is big. Really big. According to a survey conducted this year by Brandchannel.com, Lance is the 5th most recognizable brand in the country, just behind Target.

Although Armstrong won't be competing this year, his celebrity has brought a lot of new viewers to the sport, says Gavin Harvey. He's president of the Outdoor Life Network which will be broadcasting the race.

Harvey says he expects ratings to be good this season, in part because people are curious to see who will replace Armstrong as champion.

GAVIN HARVEY: It's wide open and we're going to see a lot of surprises and we're going to see a level of competition because these guys really want that yellow jersey.

Last year's race was the most watched program in OLN's history.

I'm Alex Cohen for Marketplace.

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