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Tour de France gallery: Part I

From a Grand Départ in the capital of Europe via a puncheur’s paradise in the capital of champagne to a sprint showdown in Nancy, we paint a picture of the Tour so far.

10 July 2019

Stage 01

Brussels – Brussels

A familiar fixture in the Tour of Flanders, the Muur van Geraardsbergen was a welcome trip down memory lane for this year’s champion Alberto Bettiol.
GC contenders can be vulnerable on the cobbles but, with experienced domestique Simon Clarke shadowing leader Rigo Urán, the team had a back up plan.
Often domestiques will take not only their own feed bag but that of their leader too. Here, Clarke grabs lunch for two.
After lunch there was one more 2km sector of cobbles. Seb Langeveld and Bettiol followed white jersey to be Wout van Aert through.
At the finish in Brussels, Sagan seemed to have done enough but was undone by Dutchman Mike Teunissen.
Whether’s he won a stage or finished in the bunch, Rigo Urán is always met by rapturous applause from his Colombian fans.

Stage 02

Brussels – Brussels TTT

The stage is set. The stage starts just outside a tranquil park but just over 27 kilometres of all-out effort await.
On team time trial day, everything is planned, right down to the order in which the riders roll down the start ramp.
All for one and one for all, the EF team power through central Brussels in tight formation.
A reasonably rare occurrence even for WorldTour teams, the TTT demands a raft of additional equipment from the bikes to a van-full of wheels.
The pain of the effort is clear to see on Mike Woods’ face as he navigates his way to team bus.
Alberto Bettiol likes to tinker with his set up more than most, even just after a race.
For most riders, it’s simply a case of removing the Garmin, leaving the bike with a mechanic and recovering on the bus.

Stage 03

Binche – Epernay

Good things come to those who wait. Watching the Tour from the roadside requires a little patience beforehand.
Backloaded with steep climbs in quick succession, stage three was reminiscent of the Flèche Wallonne race, and would have a familiar winner.
Whoever that winner was, he would spray some local champagne on the podium.
The stage also passed some spectacular architecture, including the cathedral in Reims.
A packed crowd waited at the finish line, but who would sprint into sight first?
In the end, it was not too hard to predict as Julian Alaphilippe – who dominated the Ardennes Classics in the spring – took his third Tour stage win in effervescent style.
In a stage that could have tripped them up, it was job done for Woods and Urán as they finished with the other favourites.

STAGE 04

Reims – Nancy

No matter the outcome of the fourth stage, French fans were ecstatic to see Alaphilippe in yellow.
Leaving from Reims, the peloton passed several of the world’s most famous champagne producers.
Some fans took the chance to enjoy a glass of fizz for themselves to celebrate the race’s passing.
Heading east towards Alsace, some in the peloton might have noted a Germanic architectural influence in a mid-stage moment of relative tranquility.
Increasing wind speeds during the middle of the stage saw teams gather in formation.
After a leadout from the yellow jersey, Elia Viviani took his very first Tour stage win.
The EF team’s overall contenders warm down after a hot day in the office.
Mike Woods took a tumble late on but escaped without injury and rejoined to bunch.

Next up, it’s into the Vosges mountains and onto the first of the race’s summit finishes at la Planche des Belles Filles on Thursday. Stay tuned for weekly photo galleries from the race.

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