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July 15, 2011

2011 Tour de France, Part 1

The world's most beautiful stadium - the entire country of France - annually hosts the most important bike race of the year: the Tour de France. Upwards of 12 million fans line the roads to watch the race. For free. No tickets needed. The race traverses over 2000 miles in 21 days of racing. Every year the route changes, but the mountains are a constant: racers must scale absurdly steep peaks in both the Pyrenees and the Alps before a victory race onto the Champs Elysees in Paris. This year's tour may be remembered most for the spate of horrible crashes that have eliminated many of the top riders. Most outrageously, a media car hit a cyclist at speed, causing a horrific crash that sent another rider cartwheeling into a barbed-wire fence. Both riders remounted and finished the stage. The race goes on through July 24. -- Lane Turner (35 photos total)

The peloton rides past the rocky tidal island of Mont Saint-Michel in the 226.5 km sixth stage of the 2011 Tour de France cycling race run between Dinan and Lisieux in northwestern France on July 7, 2011. (Lionel Bonaventure/AFP/Getty Images)

Two fans pose in a field as they wait for the riders at the Passage du Gois prior to the start of the first stage on July 2, 2011. (Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images) #

The pack crosses the Passage du Gois, a causeway submerged by the tide twice a day joining Noirmoutier Island and the mainland, during the first stage on July 2, 2011. (Christophe Ena/AP) #

The Garmin-Cervelo team win the stage two team time trial on July 3, 2011 in Les Essarts, France. (Bryn Lennon/Getty Images) #

Saxo Bank-Sungard's Alberto Contador (left) of Spain is followed up a climb by Omega Pharma-Lotto's Philippe Gilbert of Belgium during the fourth stage from Lorient to Mur-de-Bretagne on July 5, 2011. (Bernard Papon/Reuters/Pool) #

Mark Cavendish of Great Britain and the HTC Highroad team rides in the peloton during stage four from Lorient to Mur-de-Bretagne on July 5, 2011 in Bretagne. (Bryn Lennon/Getty Images) #

Tony Martin of Germany and HTC Highroad pauses after finishing stage four of the 2011 Tour de France from Lorient to Mur-de-Bretagne on July 5, 2011 in Bretagne, France. (Bryn Lennon/Getty Images) #

Rigoberto Uran of Colombia and the Sky team (left), and a man dressed in a historic outfit of a postman entertain spectators, as Johnny Hoogerland of The Netherlands waits to take the start of the fifth stage in Carhaix July 6, 2011. (Christophe Ena/AP) #

A fan holds a pig as the peloton rides during the fifth stage from Carhaix to Cap Frehel July 6, 2011. (Pascal Rossignol/Reuters) #

A rider stands at the start of the fifth stage from Carhaix to Cap Frehel July 6, 2011. (Denis Balibouse/Reuters) #

An elderly farmer watches the peloton pass near Plougonver during the fifth stage between Carhaix and Cap Frehel, Brittany on July 6, 2011. (Christophe Ena/AP) #

Fans cheer on the peloton during the fifth stage between Carhaix and Cap Frehel on July 6, 2011. (Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images) #

Fans cheer on riders competing under the rain during the sixth stage between Dinan and Lisieux on July 7, 2011. (Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images) #

A man on a horse looks at the peloton during the seventh stage from Le Mans to Chateauroux on July 8, 2011. (Stefano Rellandini/Reuters) #

The pack passes under a bridge near Onzain during the seventh stage on July 8, 2011. (Christophe Ena/AP) #

German fan Didi "El Diablo" Senft (left) jumps as the yellow jersey of the overall leader, Norway's Thor Hushovd, rides in the peloton during the seventh stage between Le Mans and Chateauroux on July 8, 2011. (Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images) #

The peloton passes by sunflower fields outside Brives during Stage 7 in Chateauroux on July 8, 2011. (Michael Steele/Getty Images) #

A fan watches a breakaway group of riders ahead of the peloton during the eighth stage on July 9, 2011 between Aigurande and Super Besse Sancy. (Christophe Ena/AP) #

Fans watch the breakaway riding during the eighth stage between Aigurande and Super-Besse Sancy on July 9, 2011. (Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images) #

Europcar rider Thomas Voeckler of France celebrates with the yellow jersey on the podium after the ninth stage from Issoire to Saint-Flour July 10, 2011. (Stefano Rellandini/Reuters) #

A fan pauses as he waits for the riders during the ninth stage between Issoire and Saint-Flour on July 10, 2011. (Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images) #

The peloton, with Thor Hushovd of Norway and the Garmin-Cervelo team wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey, speeds down Massiac pass during the 9th stage between Issoire and Saint Flour on July 10, 2011. (Christophe Ena/AP) #

One of the breakaway men, Netherland's Johnny Hoogerland, is caught in a barbed wire fence during the ninth stage between Issoire and Saint-Flour on July 10, 2011. Spain's Juan Antonio Flecha and Hoogerland survived being hit at speed by a car which bore the marking of France Television. (Lionel Bonaventure/AFP/Getty Images) #

A breakaway group climbs towards Massiac Pass during the 9th stage between Issoire and Saint Flour on July 10, 2011. (Christophe Ena/AP) #

Astana rider Alexandre Vinokourov of Kazakhstan is carried by teammates after a fall over a guard rain into a ravine during the ninth stage from Issoire to Saint-Flour July 10, 2011. Vinokourov retired from the race after this crash. (Stefano Rellandini/Reuters) #

The peloton rides past disinterested spectators during the ninth stage between Issoire and Saint-Flour on July 10, 2011. (Lionel Bonaventure/AFP/Getty Images) #

The peloton passes through the city of Villefranche de Rouergue during the 10th stage of the Tour de France on July 12, 2011. (Laurent Cipriani/AP) #

A cycling fan waves flags as the peloton passes during the 10th stage between Aurillac and Carmaux on July 12, 2011. (Laurent Cipriani/AP) #

The pack rides during the 11th stage starting in Blaye les Mines and finishing in Lavaur on July 13, 2011. (Laurent Cipriani/AP) #

Thomas Voeckler of France, wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey, rides in the peloton during the 11th stage starting in Blaye les Mines and finishing in Lavaur on July 13, 2011. (Christophe Ena/AP) #

Rain falls on the eleventh stage between Blaye-les-Mines and Lavaur on July 13 , 2011. (Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images) #

The sprinters race towards the finish line during the 11th stage in Lavaur on July 13, 2011. (Laurent Rebours/AP) #

The peloton rides past a field of sunflowers during the 12th stage from Cugnaux to Luz-Ardiden July 14, 2011. (Stefano Rellandini/Reuters) #

Young fans pause as they wait for the riders during the thirteenth stage between Pau and Lourdes on July 15 , 2011. (Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images) #

A cycling fan sits on a giant bike sculpture on the summit of the Col d'Aubisque during Stage 13 on July 15, 2011. (Michael Steele/Getty Images) #


 
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