Either Lance Armstrong and Alberto Contador are playing major head games with the competition or they are a team torn between two lovers ... I mean, riders. I'm excited to see how this race plays out, not just for Astana but in general.
If you'd like to follow the race on the web the official site is a good source of information. The live ticker is nice if you can't see the action on TV.
My favorite site is Steephill.tv, though. They have links to more resources including live tickers, streaming video links, TV schedules, last kilometer and daily highlight videos, stage profiles and maps.
The race is 21 days of racing plus 2 rest days, so if you're short on time, you can conserve time by focusing on key moments that will likely be decisive to who wins the overall competition, commonly referred to as general classification or GC. If you take the abridged approach, you will miss other aspects of the race, like competition for the king of the mountains and sprinter's jersey, and some stunning scenery, but if something exciting happens in the race, you can always watch the rebroadcast or catch it on your DVR.
Here are the dates and stages that should have impact on the overall victory.
Mountaintop finishes are significant because riding is generally most aggressive when the roads turn upward and finish on top. When there is a subsequent descent, riders tend to get reeled back in on the descent or the flats after the descent.
July 11 Barcelona (Spain) → Arcalis (Andorra) 224km
July 15 Pontarlier → Verbier (Switzerland) 207km
July 25 Montélimar → Mont-Ventoux 167km
Time trails are a race against the clock with no drafting (hiding from the wind), with the exception of course of drafting behind your teammates in the team time trial.
July 4 - Individual Time Trial (ITT) 15.5 km
July 7 - Team Time Trial (TTT) 37 km
July 23 - Individual Time Trial 40.5 km
I'd love to say more but have to run. Viva le Tour.