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The second collection of images from 2012 once again brought us nature at its full force and beauty along with news and daily life coming from countries like Russia, Syria, Egypt, England, India and Italy. The following is a compilation - not meant to be comprehensive in any way - of images from the second 4 months of 2012. Please see part 1 from Monday and here's part 3. -- Lloyd Young ( 47 photos total)
Tightrope walker Nik Wallenda walks the high wire from the United States side to the Canadian side over the Horseshoe Falls in Niagara Falls, Ontario, on June 15. (Mark Blinch/Reuters)

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The western United States continues to battle a ferocious wildfire season that has seen record-breaking fires in several states. The worst of the blazes is the Waldo Canyon fire in Colorado, blamed for two deaths, for forcing 35,000 residents to evacuate, and for the destruction of at lest 346 homes. The area around Colorado Springs has been declared a federal disaster area after the most destructive fire in state history. Wildfires have also destroyed property and forced evacuations in California, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, and New Mexico. [Editors' note: There will be no Big Picture on the Wednesday, July 4 holiday.] -- Lane Turner (38 photos total)
The Waldo Canyon fire burns an entire neighborhood near the foothills of Colorado Springs, Colo. on June 26, 2012. Colorado endured nearly a week of 100-plus-degree days and low humidity, sapping moisture from timber and grass, creating a devastating formula for volatile wildfires across the state and punishing conditions for firefighters. (Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post/Associated Press)

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Aerial photographs of the Waldo Canyon Fire in Colorado Springs, Colorado between June 24, 2012 and June 27, 2012 show the destructive path of the fire. Pilot John Wark is an aerial photographer based in Colorado who flew over the fire to document the damage. To see more of John’s images go to www.airphotona.com

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by Claire O'Neill

I don't know if I can directly answer the latter question. But certain curators like Joshua Chuang at the Yale University Art Gallery are determined to answer the former: Who is Robert Adams?

Chuang, now probably the leading Adams expert, started asking that himself, back when he was a student of photography. He picked up one of Adams' books — with characteristically dense writing and arguably unapproachable photos. "It took me a couple years to really get it," he says over the phone.

But now, it seems, he gets it. In 2004, Yale inherited a huge trove of Adams' work, and Chuang has been processing it since then. "There was not a single bad image in the group," Chuang says with a genuine deference. "His standards were so high and his editing of his own work was so rigorous." The fruits of their joint labor are in a traveling exhibition, The Place We Live, now at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA).

Credit: Robert Adams/Courtesy of LACMA

The basics: Adams can most succinctly be described as a photographer of the American West. He was born in New Jersey, but his family moved westward to mitigate his issues with asthma, and he has remained there. Only after getting a Ph.D. in English did he really begin photographing, and he has been at is since, but quietly. He doesn't email, he rarely takes interviews, and he lets Chuang come to him.

Maybe it helps to set the stage. When Adams picked up his camera, the most recognizable images from the American West were those sublime landscapes of Ansel Adams. To a large degree, that's still the case.

But where Ansel had a moral mission (to conserve nature by presenting it to the public in its pristine form), Robert's approach has been more clinical: He observes the interaction of man with land as objectively as possible. Where Ansel's photos say, "Look at what we should cherish!" Robert's say: "Here is what we are doing, and make what you will of it."

Chuang elaborates: "What sets Adams apart is his utter dedication to showing the whole picture, a truthful picture. ... Every one of his photographs is really a complex mix of good and bad. He tries to make pictures that say yes and no at once."

For example, one of the photos in the exhibit shows a small cluster of trees at the edge of a steep drop-off. By all technical definitions, one might call it beautiful. The balanced composition, the quality of light — those are things that say "yes." But then there's the title, straight-forward as it is: New development on a former citrus-growing estate, Highland, California. That seems like a subtle "no."

New development on a former citrus-growing estate, Highland, California, 1983
Robert Adams/LACMA

New development on a former citrus-growing estate, Highland, California, 1983

But it's not obvious. These photos are not on a soapbox preaching the ramifications of global warming. They are trying to be more black and white. At least, that's the idea.

"Adams has tried to go out of his way to make the uniconic pictures," says Chuang. "He chooses subjects that are so banal that they almost seem hopeless."

Though curator Joshua Chuang says Robert Adams is, in a sense, trying to make
Robert Adams/Fraenkel Gallery/LACMA

Though curator Joshua Chuang says Robert Adams is, in a sense, trying to make "uniconic" images, this one stands out as one of his more memorable: Colorado Springs, Colorado, 1968

Of course, I think Robert Adams would be hard-pressed to deny that he loves the West. I actually don't think he would try to deny it. In his writings, he waxes poetic about the quality of light, and how it redeems even the most dismal of tract houses.

You might not know he loves it, just from glancing at the images, and he sees value in that. But he also hopes you'll do more than glance. For all the desolate scenes of suburban sprawl, there's still that brilliant high-altitude light. For all of Adams' apparent indifference, and he might hate me for saying this, there seems to be a bit of hope there, too. It might just take a closer look.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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The best photos of 2011 from around the globe. Warning: All images in this entry are shown in full, not screened out for graphic content. Some images contain dead bodies, graphic content and tragic events. We consider these images an important part of human history.

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Created to be the most challenging race for professional cyclists in American history, the USA Pro Cycling Challenge is set to cover nearly 500 miles in Colorado.

Altitude and climbing will be themes through the entire race. After the opening- day prologue around Colorado Springs on Aug. 22, Stage 1 the next day from Salida to Crested Butte will go up 11,312-foot Monarch Pass and have a mountaintop finish atop Mt. Crested Butte.

The highlight of the race will be Stage 2 from Gunnison to Aspen on Aug. 24. Billed “the Queen’s Stage,” it will feature ascents over 12,126-foot Cottonwood Pass and 12,095-foot Independence Pass, the highest known climbs in international cycling.

On Stage 3, after the epic rides up Cottonwood and Independence, the 10-mile time trial around Vail will be primarily uphill. Stage 4 from Avon to Steamboat Springs will feature 5,000 feet in elevation change, and Stage 5 from Steamboat to Breckenridge will go over Rabbit Ears Pass.

The final day’s stage from Golden to Denver will go up Lookout Mountain , a 6.1 percent grade with 1,300 feet in elevation over 4.8 miles. However, Steamboat Springs, Breckenridge and Denver will have sprinter finishes.

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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Linda and Bill Mehos of Salida, Colo., wave to the riders as they leave the small town of Salida during the first stage of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge on Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2011. The Denver Post, Helen H. Richardson #

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Fans take pictures of cyclists as they race by near the start. The Pro Cycling Challenge kicked off today August 22, 2011, with the scenic backdrop of Garden of the Gods as the start line for the prologue time trial. The time trial course went 5.2 miles or 8.3 kilometers from Ridge Road/Juniper Way and Gateway Road inside Garden of the Gods, wound it's way through Colorado City along Colorado avenue and ended in downtown Colorado Springs at Cascade Ave. The prologue is an individual time trail important for designating the order for the first road stage the next day. German rider Patrick Gretsch of team HTC Highroad won the prologue. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

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The Pro Cycling Challenge kicked off today August 22, 2011, with the scenic backdrop of Garden of the Gods as the start line for the prologue time trial. The time trial course went 5.2 miles or 8.3 kilometers from Ridge Road/Juniper Way and Gateway Road inside Garden of the Gods, wound it's way through Colorado City along Colorado avenue and ended in downtown Colorado Springs at Cascade Ave. The prologue is an individual time trail important for designating the order for the first road stage the next day. German rider Patrick Gretsch of team HTC Highroad won the prologue. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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Jonathon Weurth, of Colorado Springs, Colo., cheers on rider Rafael Anibal Montiel, of the Gobernacion De Antioquia team, as he makes his way up a hill on the course during the prologue of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge on Monday, Aug. 22, 2011, in Colorado Springs, Colo. (AP Photo/The Denver Post, Helen H. Richardson) TV OUT MAGS OUT #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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Rider Ivan Rovny of Team Radioshack makes his way through the Garden of the Gods. The Pro Cycling Challenge kicked off today August 22, 2011, with the scenic backdrop of Garden of the Gods as the start line for the prologue time trial. The time trial course went 5.2 miles or 8.3 kilometers from Ridge Road/Juniper Way and Gateway Road inside Garden of the Gods, wound it's way through Colorado City along Colorado avenue and ended in downtown Colorado Springs at Cascade Ave. The prologue is an individual time trail important for designating the order for the first road stage the next day. German rider Patrick Gretsch of team HTC Highroad won the prologue. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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Janier Acevedo, with the Gobernacion De Antioquia, makes his way up the course during the prologue of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge on Monday, Aug. 22, 2011, in Colorado Springs, Colo. (AP Photo/The Denver Post, Helen H. Richardson) #

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Germany's Patrick Gretsch, of HTC-Highroad, holds flowers on the podium after winning the prologue of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge on Monday, Aug. 22, 2011, in Colorado Springs, Colo. (AP Photo/The Denver Post, Helen H. Richardson) #

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Molly McMurray, 7, got tired of waiting for Cadel Evans to exit his trailer, so she decided to put on her shades and sit on her knees for awhile hoping to get a glimpse of her favorite rider. The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 1 kicked off today August 23rd, 2011, in the small town of Salida. It wound 99.3 miles through Monarch Pass, Gunnison, Crested Butte and ended on Mount Crested Butte. Team Radioshack's Levi Leipheimer won the first stage. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

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Riders in the peloton make their way towards Monarch Pass. The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 1 kicked off today August 23rd, 2011, in the small town of Salida. It wound 99.3 miles through Monarch Pass, Gunnison, Crested Butte and ended on Mount Crested Butte. Team Radioshack's Levi Leipheimer won the first stage. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

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RIders in the peloton make their way towards the top of Monarch Pass. The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 1 kicked off today August 23rd, 2011, in the small town of Salida. It wound 99.3 miles through Monarch Pass, Gunnison, Crested Butte and ended on Mount Crested Butte. Team Radioshack's Levi Leipheimer won the first stage. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

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Fans get out their cameras to get photos of the riders as they top out at the summit of Monarch Pass. The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 1 kicked off today August 23rd, 2011, in the small town of Salida. It wound 99.3 miles through Monarch Pass, Gunnison, Crested Butte and ended on Mount Crested Butte. Team Radioshack's Levi Leipheimer won the first stage. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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A rider with United HealthCare gets some energy drinks from his support vehicle along the route after having made the large descent off of Monarch Pass. The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 1 kicked off today August 23rd, 2011, in the small town of Salida. It wound 99.3 miles through Monarch Pass, Gunnison, Crested Butte and ended on Mount Crested Butte. Team Radioshack's Levi Leipheimer won the first stage. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

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The large peloton heads for the top of Monarch Pass. The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 1 kicked off today August 23rd, 2011, in the small town of Salida. It wound 99.3 miles through Monarch Pass, Gunnison, Crested Butte and ended on Mount Crested Butte. Team Radioshack's Levi Leipheimer won the first stage. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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Riders head to the top of Monarch Pass during the first stage of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge on Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2011, near Monarch, Colo. The Denver Post, Helen H. Richardson #

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The large peloton heads for the top of Monarch Pass. The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 1 kicked off today August 23rd, 2011, in the small town of Salida. It wound 99.3 miles through Monarch Pass, Gunnison, Crested Butte and ended on Mount Crested Butte. Team Radio shack's Levi Leipheimer won the first stage. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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A sign in the small town of Parlin. The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 1 kicked off today August 23rd, 2011, in the small town of Salida. It wound 99.3 miles through Monarch Pass, Gunnison, Crested Butte and ended on Mount Crested Butte. Team Radio shack's Levi Leipheimer won the first stage. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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Jeremiah Ranegar, a support team member of BMC Cycling, waits ho hand out musettes, or food bags, to riders after the descent from Monarch Pass near Monarch, Colo., during the first stage of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge on Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2011. The Denver Post, Helen H. Richardson #

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Riders make their way toward Gunnison, Colo., with thunderheads looming in the distance during the first stage of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge on Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2011. The Denver Post, Helen H. Richardson #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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The large peloton makes their way through the town of Gunnison. The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 1 kicked off today August 23rd, 2011, in the small town of Salida. It wound 99.3 miles through Monarch Pass, Gunnison, Crested Butte and ended on Mount Crested Butte. Team Radioshack's Levi Leipheimer won the first stage. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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Fans line the streets of Crested Butte in anticipation of the riders coming through. The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 1 kicked off today August 23rd, 2011, in the small town of Salida. It wound 99.3 miles through Monarch Pass, Gunnison, Crested Butte and ended on Mount Crested Butte. Team Radioshack's Levi Leipheimer won the first stage. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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Fans line the streets of Crested Butte in anticipation of the riders coming through. The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 1 kicked off today August 23rd, 2011, in the small town of Salida. It wound 99.3 miles through Monarch Pass, Gunnison, Crested Butte and ended on Mount Crested Butte. Team Radioshack's Levi Leipheimer won the first stage. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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Levi Leipheimer, of the United States, celebrates his victory in the first stage of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2011, in Crested Butte, Colo. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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3 year old Stephanie Harvey gets a little extra attention from Tour De France winner and Team BMC rider Cadel Evans, right. The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 2 kicked off today August 24th, 2011, in the small town of Gunnison, Colorado. This was the longest stage race of the entire race with the highest elevation gain. The course went over Cottonwood Pass thru Buena Vista and up and over Independence Pass and ended in downtown Aspen, Colorado. The entire race was 130.3 miles. At 12126 feet, Cottonwood Pass is the highest climb of the race. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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The peloton makes it's way out of Gunnison early this morning. The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 2 kicked off today August 24th, 2011, in the small town of Gunnison, Colorado. This was the longest stage race of the entire race with the highest elevation gain. The course went over Cottonwood Pass thru Buena Vista and up and over Independence Pass and ended in downtown Aspen, Colorado. The entire race was 130.3 miles. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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The peloton winds it's way through valleys before heading towards Cottonwood Pass. The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 2 kicked off today August 24th, 2011, in the small town of Gunnison, Colorado. This was the longest stage race of the entire race with the highest elevation gain. The course went over Cottonwood Pass thru Buena Vista and up and over Independence Pass and ended in downtown Aspen, Colorado. The entire race was 130.3 miles. At 12126 feet, Cottonwood Pass is the highest climb of the race. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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Riders in the peloton jockey for position early in the second stage of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge near Gunnison, Colo., Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2011. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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The peloton makes it's way towards Cottonwood Pass. The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 2 kicked off today August 24th, 2011, in the small town of Gunnison, Colorado. This was the longest stage race of the entire race with the highest elevation gain. The course went over Cottonwood Pass thru Buena Vista and up and over Independence Pass and ended in downtown Aspen, Colorado. The entire race was 130.3 miles. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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Daniel Navarro, left, with Saxo Bank Sungard, and Francois Parisien, of Team Spidertech, in front, are seen on their way towards Cottonwood Pass. Cottonwood Pass was the higher of the two passes at 12,126 feet. Independence Pass is 12,095 feet. The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 2 kicked off today August 24th, 2011, in the small town of Gunnison, Colorado. This was the longest stage race of the entire race with the highest elevation gain. The course went over Cottonwood Pass thru Buena Vista and up and over Independence Pass and ended in downtown Aspen, Colorado. The entire race was 130.3 miles. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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Riders make their way up Cottonwood Pass during the second stage of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2011, northeast of Gunnison, Colo. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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Team Bissell Pro Cycling rider Ben Jacques-Maynes, #128 and Jelly Belly Cycling Team rider William Dickeson, #144 check out Taylor Park reservoir on their towards Cottonwood Pass. Behind them is BMC rider Cadel Evans, winner of the Tour De France. The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 2 kicked off today August 24th, 2011, in the small town of Gunnison, Colorado. This was the longest stage race of the entire race with the highest elevation gain. The course went over Cottonwood Pass thru Buena Vista and up and over Independence Pass and ended in downtown Aspen, Colorado. The entire race was 130.3 miles. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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The peloton makes it's way to the top of The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 2 kicked off today August 24th, 2011, in the small town of Cottonwood Pass, At 12126 feet it was the highest summit of the race. Gunnison, Colorado. This was the longest stage race of the entire race with the highest elevation gain. The course went over Cottonwood Pass thru Buena Vista and up and over Independence Pass and ended in downtown Aspen, Colorado. The entire race was 130.3 miles. This was the Queen Stage of the race. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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From left to right: Sander Oostlander, #104 with Team SKIL-Shimano, Andre Steensen, #61 with Saxo Bank Sungard, Danny Pate, #44, with HTC-Highroad, and Rafael Montiel, #155 with Gobernacion De Antioquia, make their way up the dirt road of Cottonwood Pass. They were part of the break away pack. The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 2 kicked off today August 24th, 2011, in the small town of Gunnison, Colorado. This was the longest stage race of the entire race with the highest elevation gain. The course went over Cottonwood Pass thru Buena Vista and up and over Independence Pass and ended in downtown Aspen, Colorado. The entire race was 130.3 miles. At 12,126 feet, Cottonwood Pass is the highest climb of the race. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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Riders in the peloton get near the summit of Cottonwood Pass. The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 2 kicked off today August 24th, 2011, in the small town of Gunnison, Colorado. This was the longest stage race of the entire race with the highest elevation gain. The course went over Cottonwood Pass thru Buena Vista and up and over Independence Pass and ended in downtown Aspen, Colorado. The entire race was 130.3 miles. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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Riders in the peloton get near the summit of Cottonwood Pass northeast of Gunnison, Colo., during the second stage of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2011. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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The peloton makes it's way up Independence Pass. The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 2 kicked off today August 24th, 2011, in the small town of Gunnison, Colorado. This was the longest stage race of the entire race with the highest elevation gain. The course went over Cottonwood Pass thru Buena Vista and up and over Independence Pass and ended in downtown Aspen, Colorado. The entire race was 130.3 miles. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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Huge crowds await the riders at the top of Independence Pass. The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 2 kicked off today August 24th, 2011, in the small town of Gunnison, Colorado. This was the longest stage race of the entire race with the highest elevation gain. The course went over Cottonwood Pass thru Buena Vista and up and over Independence Pass and ended in downtown Aspen, Colorado. The entire race was 130.3 miles. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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Team Garmin-Cervelo rider Christian Vande Velde, #36, Team HTC-Highroad rider Tejay Van Garderen, #41, and leader Levii Leipheimer, of Team Radioshack top out on Independence Pass. Independence Pass is at an elevation of 12,095 feet. The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 2 kicked off today August 24th, 2011, in the small town of Gunnison, Colorado. This was the longest stage race of the entire race with the highest elevation gain. The course went over Cottonwood Pass thru Buena Vista and up and over Independence Pass and ended in downtown Aspen, Colorado. The entire race was 130.3 miles. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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The peloton heads towards Independence Pass which tops out at an elevation of 12,095 . The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 2 kicked off today August 24th, 2011, in the small town of Gunnison, Colorado. This was the longest stage race of the entire race with the highest elevation gain. The course went over Cottonwood Pass thru Buena Vista and up and over Independence Pass and ended in downtown Aspen, Colorado. The entire race was 130.3 miles. At 12,126 feet, Cottonwood Pass is the highest climb of the race. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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Team RadioShack riders from left to right Jason McCartney, #16 and Dmitiry Muravyev, #12, and Bjorn Selander, #18, look towards the looming high peak of Independence Pass that await them on their ride as they pass Twin Lakes. Independence Pass tops out at 12,095 feet. The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 2 kicked off today August 24th, 2011, in the small town of Gunnison, Colorado. This was the longest stage race of the entire race with the highest elevation gain. The course went over Cottonwood Pass thru Buena Vista and up and over Independence Pass and ended in downtown Aspen, Colorado. The entire race was 130.3 miles. At 12126 feet, Cottonwood Pass is the highest climb of the race. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 2 kicked off today August 24th, 2011, in the small town of Gunnison, Colorado. This was the longest stage race of the entire race with the highest elevation gain. The course went over Cottonwood Pass thru Buena Vista and up and over Independence Pass and ended in downtown Aspen, Colorado. The entire race was 130.3 miles. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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BMC Racing team's George Hincapie celebrates his win in Stage 2 as he comes to the finish line in Aspen. The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 2 kicked off today August 24th, 2011, in the small town of Gunnison, Colorado. This was the longest stage race of the entire race with the highest elevation gain. The course went over Cottonwood Pass thru Buena Vista and up and over Independence Pass and ended in downtown Aspen, Colorado. The entire race was 130.3 miles. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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Tour de France winner Cadel Evans, middle, congratulates BMC Racing teammate George Hincapie, right, on his win in the second stage of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2011, in Aspen, Colo. At left is Jeff Louder. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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Stage 2 winner George Hincapie, ot Team BMC gets the traditional double cheek kiss from the lovely ladies on the podium. The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 2 kicked off today August 24th, 2011, in the small town of Gunnison, Colorado. This was the longest stage race of the entire race with the highest elevation gain. The course went over Cottonwood Pass thru Buena Vista and up and over Independence Pass and ended in downtown Aspen, Colorado. The entire race was 130.3 miles. At 12,126 feet, Cottonwood Pass is the highest climb of the race. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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Team Radioshack rider Levi Leipheimer, wearing the green jersey for being the fastest sprinter yesterday, makes his way up the course as fans scream and yell encouragement for him. Leipheimer won the race in 25 minutes 47.08 seconds giving him today's yellow jersey. This is his second stage win of the race. The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 3 was a 10 mile time trial that sent riders up Vail Pass, today August 25, 2011. Levi Leipheimer won today's stage giving him the yellow jersey for the second time in the race. Photo by Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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HTC-Highroad rider Danny Pate makes his way out of the stating gates. The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 3 was a 10 mile time trial that sent riders up Vail Pass. Levi Leipheimer won today's stage giving him the yellow jersey for the second time in the race. Photo by Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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Leopard Trek rider Jens Voigt tries to concentrate while crazy fans scream and shout as he makes his through the throngs of fans around the 5km mark of the race. The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 3 was a 10 mile time trial that sent riders up Vail Pass. Levi Leipheimer won today's stage giving him the yellow jersey for the second time in the race. Photo by Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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Team Radioshack rider George Bennett heads towards Vail Pass with his number upside down. The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 3 was a 10 mile time trial that sent riders up Vail Pass. Levi Leipheimer won today's stage giving him the yellow jersey for the second time in the race. Photo by Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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Team Garmin-Cervelo rider Danny Summerhill, #38 makes his way up the course as fans scream and yell encouragement for him. The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 3 was a 10 mile time trial that sent riders up Vail Pass. Levi Leipheimer won today's stage giving him the yellow jersey for the second time in the race. Photo by Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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HTC-Highroad rider Craig Lewis rounds the first corner out of the starting gates in the time trail that began in downtown Vail. The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 3 was a 10 mile time trial that sent riders up Vail Pass. Levi Leipheimer won today's stage giving him the yellow jersey for the second time in the race. Photo by Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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Team Garmin-Cervelo rider Daniel Lloyd gets ready to round the last corner before leaving downtown Vail heading towards Vail Pass on the beginning of the Stage 3 time trial race. The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 3 was a 10 mile time trial that sent riders up Vail Pass. Levi Leipheimer won today's stage giving him the yellow jersey for the second time in the race. Photo by Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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Crazy fan Tyler Chapman screams and yells words of encouragment to Liquigas-Cannondale rider Edward King as he runs along side him as King makes his way up a steep portion of the hill climb up Vail Pass. The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 3 was a 10 mile time trial that sent riders up Vail Pass. Levi Leipheimer won today's stage giving him the yellow jersey for the second time in the race. Photo by Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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Team Gobernacion De Antioquia rider Alejandro Ramirez Calderon heads towards Vail Pass during stage 3. The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 3 was a 10 mile time trial that sent riders up Vail Pass. Levi Leipheimer won today's stage giving him the yellow jersey for the second time in the race. Photo by Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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Crazy fans yell encouragement to Team Type 1 rider Alexander Efimkin as he makes his way up a steep portion of the hill climb up Vail Pass. The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 3 was a 10 mile time trial that sent riders up Vail Pass. Levi Leipheimer won today's stage giving him the yellow jersey for the second time in the race. Photo by Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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Team HTC-Highroad rider Tejay Van Garderen, wearing the overall winners yellow jersey makes his way up the course as fans scream and yell encouragement for him. Van Garderen came in 6th overall with a time of 26 minutes 38.26 seconds. Leipheimer won the race in 25 minutes 47.08 seconds giving him today's yellow jersey. This is his second stage win of the race. The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 3 was a 10 mile time trial that sent riders up Vail Pass, today August 25, 2011. Levi Leipheimer won today's stage giving him the yellow jersey for the second time in the race. Photo by Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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Team Garmin-Cervelo rider Christian Vande Velde raises his hands in the air while holding a new pair of skis on the podium. He came in second in today's time trail with a time of 25 minutes 47.66 seconds. Team Radioshack rider Levi Leipheimer won today's time trial in 25 minutes 47.08 seconds giving him today's yellow jersey. This is his second stage win of the race. The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 3 was a 10 mile time trial that sent riders up Vail Pass, today August 25, 2011. Levi Leipheimer won today's stage giving him the yellow jersey for the second time in the race. Photo by Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

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An Ultra-Orthodox Jewish boy runs next to bonfires during Lag Ba’Omer celebrations to commemorate the end of a plague said to have decimated Jews in Roman times in Bnei Brak, Israel, Saturday, May 21, 2011.

A man carries a young girl who was rescued after being trapped with her mother in their home after a tornado hit Joplin, Mo. on Sunday evening, May 22, 2011. The tornado tore a path a mile wide and four miles long destroying homes and businesses.

Smoke plumes rise from the Grimsvotn volcano, which lies under the Vatnajokull glacier, about 120 miles east of the capital, Rejkjavik, which began erupting Saturday for the first time since 2004. Iceland closed its main international airport and canceled domestic flights Sunday as a powerful volcanic eruption sent a plume of ash, smoke and steam 12 miles into the air.

 May 27, 2011

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An Ultra-Orthodox Jewish boy runs next to bonfires during Lag Ba'Omer celebrations to commemorate the end of a plague said to have decimated Jews in Roman times in Bnei Brak, Israel, Saturday, May 21, 2011. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit) #

 May 27, 2011

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In this photo taken on Saturday, May 21, 2011, smoke plumes from the Grimsvotn volcano, which lies under the Vatnajokull glacier, about 120 miles, (200 kilometers) east of the capital, Rejkjavik, which began erupting Saturday for the first time since 2004. Iceland closed its main international airport and canceled domestic flights Sunday as a powerful volcanic eruption sent a plume of ash, smoke and steam 12 miles (20 kilometers) into the air. (AP Photo/Jon Gustafsson) #

 May 27, 2011

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A man carries a young girl who was rescued after being trapped with her mother in their home after a tornado hit Joplin, Mo. on Sunday evening, May 22, 2011. The tornado tore a path a mile wide and four miles long destroying homes and businesses. (AP Photo/Mike Gullett) #

 May 27, 2011

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Emergency personnel walk through a neighborhood severely damaged by a tornado near the Joplin Regional Medical Center in Joplin, Mo., Sunday, May 22, 2011. A large tornado moved through much of the city, damaging a hospital and hundreds of homes and businesses. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein) #

 May 27, 2011

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Lightning from a severe thunderstorm flashes in the distance beyond a crucifix in a cemetery near Easton, Kan. Saturday, May 21, 2011. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel) #

 May 27, 2011

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Cadets from the 2011 graduating class of the U.S. Air Force Academy arrive to Falcon Stadium on May 25, 2011 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. A total of 1,021 graduates were to receive their diplomas in front of their families, dignitaries and the public at the annual event. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images) #

 May 27, 2011

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A rebel fighter walks in a old and abandoned Catholic Church used by Moammar Gadhafi forces as a military camp on the east front line, 25 km from Misrata, Libya, Wednesday, May 25, 2011. Predicting success in Libya, President Barack Obama said Wednesday that Moammar Gadhafi would ultimately be forced to step down if NATO keeps up its military campaign with the U.S. playing a key role. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd) #

 May 27, 2011

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U.S. President Barack Obama (L) and Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron play table tennis at Globe Academy on May 24, 2011 in London, England. The 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, and his wife Michelle are in the UK for a two day State Visit at the invitation of HM Queen Elizabeth II. During the trip they will attend a state banquet at Buckingham Palace and the President will address both houses of parliament at Westminster Hall. (Photo by Paul Hackett - WPA Pool/Getty Images) #

 May 27, 2011

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A demonstrator shows his hands covered with blood of a fellow demonstrator as police officers try to remove them during clashes in Barcelona, Friday, May 27, 2011. Truncheon-wielding police in Barcelona have clashed with protesters at a makeshift camp that is one of dozens erected in Spain to protest high unemployment and other woes. Officers in riot gear were accompanying workers tasked with cleaning up the nearly two-week old camp at Plaza de Catalunya and police used force when protesters would not evacuate the camp temporarily as requested. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti) #

 May 27, 2011

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Burqa-clad Afghan women walk through a graveyard in the old section of Kabul on May 25, 2011. Despite massive injections of foreign aid since the fall of the Taliban in 2001, Afghanistan remains desperately poor with some of the lowest living standards in the world. AFP PHOTO / Punit PARANJPE #

 May 27, 2011

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Beverly Winans hugs her daughter Debbie Surlin while salvaging items from Winans' devastated home in Joplin, Mo. Wednesday, May 25, 2011. Winans and her husband rode out the EF-5 tornado by hiding under a bed in the home. The tornado tore through much of the city Sunday, damaging a hospital and hundreds of homes and businesses and killing at least 123 people. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel) #

 May 27, 2011

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Storms clouds pass behind Buck Creek School near Lawrence, Kan., Saturday, May 21, 2011. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner) #

 May 27, 2011

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Florene Renfro, 85, breaks down as she goes through her damaged home Wednesday, May 25, 2011, in Joplin , Mo. Renfro was able to save herself by hiding in a tiny linen closet and holding on to the door handle as massive tornado severely damaged her house Sunday night. "He was knocking, but I wouldn't let him in," she said of the tornado. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson) #

 May 27, 2011

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A neighborhood destroyed by a powerful tornado on Sunday is seen in Joplin, Mo. Tuesday, May 24, 2011. A tornado moved through much of the city Sunday, damaging a hospital and hundreds of homes and businesses and killing at least 116 people. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel) #

 May 27, 2011

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Jean Logan reacts as she sees the damage to her home in Joplin, Mo., Monday, May 23, 2011 after it was damaged by a tornado that destroyed nearly 30 percent of the town on Sunday afternoon. Logan and her granddaughter rode out the storm in the laundry room. The twister cut a six-mile path through the city. (AP Photo/Tulsa World, Adam Wisneski) #

 May 27, 2011

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Kashmiri villagers carry the body of Mohammed Imran Khan, a suspected militant of Jaish-e-Mohammed during his funeral procession in Keller some 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of Srinagar, India, Friday, May 27, 2011. Thousands attended the funeral of two suspected rebels in Indian Kashmir Friday, a day after they were killed in a gunbattle with government forces in the restive region, according to police. (AP Photo/Dar Yasin) #

 May 27, 2011

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A man wearing a mask painted with the flag of the old Libyan monarchy that has been adopted by the Libyan revolutionary movement attends a demonstration in support of the Libyan rebels and in protest against Sweden and their stance toward the EU near the Swedish Parliament in Stockholm on May 20, 2011. NATO said on May 20 its warplanes hit eight vessels of Moamer Kadhafi's navy, after US President Barack Obama predicted the veteran Libyan strongman would "inevitably" leave or be forced from power. AFP PHOTO/JONATHAN NACKSTRAND #

 May 27, 2011

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A trio of local area rodeo queens ride in the backseat of a 1955 Ford Thunderbird during the Parade America on Saturday, May 21, 2011 in Nampa, Idaho. (AP Photo/Idaho Press-Tribune, Charlie Litchfield) #

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