Defending champion Alberto Contador started paddling for retaining the title of Tour de France for third consecutive year. The rivalry between Contador and last two years' runner-up Andy Schleck also got renewed with the kick off of the most famous cycling event in the world.

The Vendée region of western France witnessed the start of three-week long sporting event in which the best cyclists in the world will pedal through beautiful towns and villages to show their endurance and determine who will reach Paris wearing the Yellow Jersey.

Contador and Schleck, who had difference of just 39 seconds in last year's Tour, are the first two favorites this year, however, people are also looking forward to Garmin-Cervélo sprinter Tyler Farrar's performance.

Farrar's training partner and friend, Wouter Weylandt, passed away after a tragic crash in the Giro d'Italia.

After the accident Farrar struggled physically and emotionally, and his career also saw a dip with some disappointing finishes. His fans will be extremely happy to watch him perform as per the tournaments standards.

Everyone wants to try to win a stage at the Tour. That's what I'm here for, Associated Press quotes Farrar. It's always a big goal of the season ... Everything's gone to plan the last month or so, so I think I'm ready.

The 2,131-mile Tour ends on July 24 at the Champs-Elysees.