Defending champion Alberto Contador and last year’s runner-up Andy Schleck renewed their rivalry as riders started the 2011 Tour de France on Saturday.

The mostly flat first stage takes riders over 191.5 kilometers (119 miles) from La Barre-de-Monts to Mont des Alouettes in the Vendee region of western France.

The road stage favours sprinters like Mark Cavendish and two-time green jersey winner Thor Hushovd.

Three-time champion Contador beat Schleck by just 39 seconds last year.

The 3,430-kilometer (2,131-mile) Tour ends on July 24 at the Champs-Elysees.

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