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The 2012 Tour de France, Part 1 of 2

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The 99th Tour de France cycling race began on July 1, as 22 teams of nine riders raced first through parts of Belgium, then on to France in stage three. Switzerland's Fabian Cancellara held the overall lead until stage six, when Team Sky rider Bradley Wiggins overtook Cancellara, gaining the leader's yellow jersey, which he still wears as of today. The Tour continues until July 22, heading into the Alps for grueling mountain stages in the second half of the race. The entire tour will cover a distance of 3,497 km (2,173 mi). Gathered here are images from the first half of the 2012 Tour de France. Part 2 will be posted after the finish. [40 photos]

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The pack of riders cycles in the second stage of the 99th Tour de France cycling race between Vise and Tournai, on July 2, 2012. (Reuters/Stephane Mahe)
The pack of riders cycles in the second stage of the 99th Tour de France cycling race between Vise and Tournai, on July 2, 2012. (Reuters/Stephane Mahe)
Team SKY rider Bradley Wiggins of Great Britain trains in the mountains of Mallorca in preparation for the 2012 Tour de France, on June 19, 2012 in Alcudia, Spain. (Bryn Lennon/Getty Images) #
The wheel of a bicycle of France's Europcar cycling team prior to the start of a training session around Liege, Belgium, on June 29, 2012, the eve of the start of the 2012 Tour de France. (Lionel Bonaventure/AFP/Getty Images) #
Switzerland's Fabian Cancellara competes in the 6.4 km individual time-trial and prologue of the 2012 Tour de France around Liege, on June 30, 2012. (Lionel Bonaventure/AFP/Getty Images) #
The pack passes Ouffet under a menacing sky during the first stage of the Tour de France over 198 kilometers (123 miles) finishing in Seraing, Belgium, on July 1, 2012. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena) #
Riders cast shadows on the road during the first stage of the Tour de France, on July 1, 2012. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani) #
Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland, wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey, and Edvald Boasson Hagen of Norway, rear left in white jersey, try to catch Peter Sagan of Slovakia, right, as he sprints towards the finish line to win the first stage of the Tour de France in Seraing, Belgium, on July 1, 2012.(AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani) #
The pack climbs towards the Citadel in Namur during the second stage of the Tour de France, on July 2, 2012. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena) #
Mark Cavendish of Britain, right with yellow helmet, pushes for the finish line alongside Andre Greipel of Germany, left, on the second stage of the Tour de France in Tournai, Belgium, on July 2, 2012. (AP Photo/Laurent Rebours) #
Mark Cavendish of Britain, rear right with yellow helmet, pushes his bicycle over the finish line just ahead of Andre Greipel of Germany, front, and Matthew Harley Gross of Australia, rear left, to win the 207.5 km (129 mi) second stage of the Tour de France in Tournai, Belgium, on July 2, 2012. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong) #
Yukiya Arashiro of Japan passes over a bridge in Dieppe during the fourth stage of the Tour de France, on July 4, 2012. Arashiro was awarded the most combative rider of the stage. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani) #
Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland, wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey, rides in the pack during the third stage of the Tour de France, on his way to Boulogne-sur-Mer, France, on July 3, 2012. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani) #
The pack rides through countryside on the third stage of the Tour de France, on July 3, 2012. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani) #
Michael Morkov of Denmark wears the best climber's polka-dot jersey on the podium of the third stage of the Tour de France in Boulogne-sur-Mer, France, on July 3, 2012. (AP Photo/Laurent Rebours) #
The peloton passes through wheat fields during stage four of the 2012 Tour de France from Abbeville to Rouen, on July 4, 2012. (Doug Pensinger/Getty Images) #
Men cheer from atop a wind turbine as the pack passes during the fourth stage of the Tour de France cycling race, heading toward Rouen, on July 4, 2012. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena) #
The pack speeds downhill towards Sainte-Marguerite-sur-Mer as the Channel is seen in the background during the fourth stage of the Tour de France, on July 4, 2012. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena) #
Radioshack-Nissan rider and leader's yellow jersey Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland awaits the start of the fourth stage of the 99th Tour de France in Abbeville, on July 4, 2012. (Reuters/Bogdan Cristel) #
The pack passes a church in Rouen during the start of the fifth stage of the Tour de France, on July 5, 2012. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena) #
Fans cheer on the pack as a helicopter flies over during the fifth stage of the 2012 Tour de France, on July 5, 2012. (Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images) #
The peloton make their way through the French countryside on stage six of the 2012 Tour de France from Epernay to Metz, on July 6, 2012. (Bryn Lennon/Getty Images) #
After a large crash 20 kilometers from the stage six finish line, riders try and get back on their bicycles near Metz, France, on July 6, 2012. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena) #
Injured Thomas Danielson of the US sits in the grass after a crash in the pack at some 20 kilometers from he finish line during the sixth stage of the Tour de France near Metz, on Friday July 6, 2012. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani) #
Doctors tend to Davide Vigano of Italy after a crash in the pack at some 20 kilometers from the finish line of the sixth stage near Metz, France, on July 6, 2012. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani) #
Team Sky's Richie Porte, after the end of the 207.5 km sixth stage of the Tour de France, in Metz, on July 6, 2012. (Daniel Sannum Lauten/AFP/Getty Images) #
Peter Sagan of Slovakia, wearing the best sprinter's green jersey, crosses the finish line ahead of Andre Greipel of Germany, right, and Matthew Harley Goss of Australia, left, to win the sixth stage of the Tour de France in Metz, on July 6, 2012. (AP Photo/Laurent Rebours) #
The pack rides past a field of sunflowers during the 199 km seventh stage of the 2012 Tour de France, heading toward La Planche des Belles Filles, on July 7, 2012. (Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images) #
Bernhard Eisel of Austria and SKY Procycling leads the peloton through the French Countryside during stage seven of the 2012 Tour de France, on July 7, 2012. (Bryn Lennon/Getty Images) #
Spectators cheers as the pack passes during the seventh stage of the Tour de France, on July 7, 2012. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena) #
Christopher Froome (right) of Great Britain riding for Sky Procycling takes a look back at Cadel Evans of Australia riding for BMC Racing as Froome sprinted to the finish line to win stage seven of the 2012 Tour de France in La Planche des Belles Filles, on July 7, 2012. Evans finished second. (Doug Pensinger/Getty Images) #
Bradley Wiggins of Great Britain and SKY Procycling rides up the final climb, on his way to taking the yellow jersey during stage seven of the 2012 Tour de France from Tomblaine to La Planche des Belles Filles, on July 7, 2012. (Bryn Lennon/Getty Images) #
New best climber's polka dot jersey winner, Sweden's Frederik Kessiakoff, climbs at the end of the 157.5 km eighth stage of the 2012 Tour de France, heading toward Porrentruy, Switzerland, on July 8, 2012. (Lionel Bonaventure/AFP/Getty Images) #
Bradley Wiggins of Britain, wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey, Ryder Hesjedal of Canada, wearing the best young rider's white jersey, and Christopher Froome of Britain, wearing the best climber's dotted jersey, ride in the pack during the start of the 8th stage of the Tour de France in Belfort, France, on July 8, 2012. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena) #
Team Sky rider Christopher Froome of Britain in the best climber's polka dot jersey awaits the start of the eight stage of the 99th Tour de France, on July 8, 2012. (Reuters/Bogdan Cristel) #
The legs of Astana Pro Team rider Fredrik Kessiakoff of Sweden, seen on the podium flanked by presenters, after the eighth stage of the Tour de France in Porrentruy, , Switzerland, on July 8, 2012. (Reuters/Bogdan Cristel) #
Christopher Froome of Britain concentrates prior to the start of the 9th stage of the Tour de France, an individual time trial over 41.5 kilometers (25.8 miles) starting in Arc-et-Senans and finishing in Besancon, France, on July 9, 2012. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani) #
Overall leader Bradley Wiggins competes in the 41.5 km individual time-trial and ninth stage of the 2012 Tour de Francee, on July 9, 2012. (Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images) #
Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland strains in the last meters of the 9th stage of the Tour de France, in Besancon, France, on July 9, 2012. (AP Photo/Laurent Rebours) #
Laurens Ten Dam of The Netherlands and the Rabobank Cycling Team in action during stage nine of the 2012 Tour de France, on July 9, 2012 in Besancon, France. (Bryn Lennon/Getty Images) #
Bradley Wiggins, stage winner and overall leader, celebrates on the podium at the end of the individual time-trial ninth stage of the 2012 Tour de France, on July 9, 2012. (Pascal Pavani/AFP/Getty Images) #

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