If you are interested in reading a bit more about the stages and riders you can pick up a Tour de France guide. The one by Cycle Sport is usually better than the one by Velo Magazine. I was in an REI today and saw the Cycle Sport one. Velo Magazine is available at Barnes & Noble as well as many bike shops.
I went to see five stages of the tour in 2007 on my honeymoon. Three of the stages were in the Pyrenees which were amazingly beautiful, and then I caught the last day in Paris.
I don't know if Lance has ruined it for many Americans, or it's just that we don't have any contenders these days. In the early 2000s we had Lance, Levi, Tyler Hamilton, Floyd Landis and George Hincape that were all fighting it out for either the GC win or at least stages. Last year the best placed American was Tyler Farrar in 11th. Horner's knee is not good and I wouldn't be surprised to see him retire. Christian Vandevelde just crashed out of his last Tour.
In a few years we are going to have a new crop of riders that are currently racing U23 events and have been doing well. Maybe one or two of them can make it popular again. I'm hoping it's Ian Boswell who is on Sky. He's a good kid that I raced against when he turned about 15. He lived one street away from me until he moved to France this spring.
Let's try this Textreme 95 for a while.