Lance Armstrong Wears the Tour de France Social Media Yellow Jersey.

On the whole, sailing has been pretty good at leveraging digital media to allow fans to access content that would otherwise not be available by ‘mass-market’ channels. that’s not to say that more can’t be done. In our quest to show the sailing world some of the best practise from other places in the sporting world, we highlight how Lance Armstrong and his team are using Social Media in the Tour de France.

Cycling has an enormous following. Probably more than you think. The sport is also at the forefront of using new media to deliver its fans content. Here’s some perspective people – on the twitter directory site, a search for cycling brings back 441,901 users while the same search for sailing brings back 83,784 users.

The most famous cycling race of them all is on at the moment – the Tour de France, and Lance Armstrong is advocating his passion for social media and bringing brand sponsors Oakley, Nissan and Clear2o along for the ride by teaming with healthy living community Web site

Just as the Volvo Ocean Race and some Vendee Globe teams delivered a deluge of media offerings for fans, Armstrong will provide real-time updates from the “2009 Tour de France,” which runs through July 26.

The deal was designed out of Armstrong’s frustration with U.S. coverage of his sport during the “Giro d’Italia” race.

Armstrong said:

“…I, Lance, want to broadcast through exclusively and use Twitter to make sure people can not only see the tour, but actually feel it and hear it directly from my mouth-unedited.”

Advertisers want to feel like they’re participating, and their brands are tied to something real. This is achieved on the site through twitter updates, photos, video and a route-tracking tool called Livestrong Loops, which let fans track Armstrong’s journey and map the race across all 21 stages. They can also check out local courses for running, walking, cycling and hiking at the site and track the caloric burn from completing a loop by using The Daily Plate tool.

Oakley, Nissan and Clear2o are the presenting sponsors of the site’s behind-the-scenes “Tour de France” content, and their products will get placement in blog updates.

Oakley’s Jawbone glasses are the current model for which proceeds are donated to Livestrong, and the brand has raised $3 million in two years for cancer research. Oakley will get banner ads and other real estate on the “Tour de Lance” section of the site in exchange for the sponsorship. Oakley, which gets about 1.5 million unique visitors to its Web site each month, will link to and provide live Twitter feeds from Armstrong and the 75 or so other riders it sponsors in
the race.

Pat McIlvain, VO Sports Marketing at Oakley says:

“In this tough economic climate, we’ve found that people want to spend their money on a quality product or something they believe in. With Livestrong, they feel the money is going to something good and they want to participate. It’s as a centrifugal force of what Lance is riding the ‘Tour de France’ this year. Sure, he wants to win. But more so, he’s trying to raise money and awareness for cancer.”