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Christophe Ena

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A park ranger stands at the site of a new eruption in Virunga National Park near Goma, on November 24, 2011. Almost three weeks after a fissure opened amidst dense flat forest, the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Virunga National Park has seen an increasing number of tourists seeking to be guided on treks to witness [...]

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With the crashes of the first half of the race behind him, Cadel Evans finally ascended to the top step of the Tour de France podium after winning the 2011 edition. Evans had twice finished second. It was a tour of firsts. Evans became the first Australian to win the world's most prestigious bike race, and the brothers Schleck, Andy and Frank, became the first siblings to share the podium, taking second and third, respectively. In an electrifying tour, Evans pulled out the win on the second to last day in the individual time trial, soundly beating both Schlecks to win the three-week race by over a minute and a half. A plucky Frenchman, Thomas Voeckler, had given French fans hope for ten days as he tenaciously clung to the overall lead, only to finally succumb on the grueling climbs of the Alps. He finished fourth overall. Defending champion Alberto Contador, perhaps weakened by his May victory in the exhausting three-week Tour of Italy, or Giro d'Italia, could do no better than fifth. Through it all, the beauty of France shone through. The Big Picture offers special thanks to Veeral Patel for making his photographs available. -- Lane Turner (34 photos total)
Australia's Cadel Evans (center) celebrates with BMC teammates on the Champs-Elysees after he won the 2011 Tour de France cycling race on July 24, 2011. (Pascal Pavani/AFP/Getty Images)

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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)

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Play began on Sunday at Roland Garros in the French Open. Top-ranked Rafael Nadal began his bid to tie Bjorn Borg’s record of six titles at the clay-court Grand Slam tournament. On the women’s side, defending French Open champion, Francesca Schiavone, starts off the tournament as the fifth seed. Schiavone advanced to the second round easily over American Melanie Oudin of Marietta, Ga. while Nadal had a tougher match, beating American John Isner in five sets. Also advancing to the second round were Australian Open finalists Andy Murray and Li Na, as well as Maria Sharapova, Kim Clijsters and two-time French Open finalist Robin Soderling.

 The French Open

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A ballgirl runs with a ball during a break in the women's singles round one match between Shuai Zhang of China and Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia on day two of the French Open at Roland Garros on May 23, 2011 in Paris, France. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images) #

 The French Open

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David Ferrer of Spain serves during the men's singles round one match between David Ferrer of Spain and Jarkko Nieminen of Finland on day one of the French Open at Roland Garros on May 22, 2011 in Paris, France. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images) #

 The French Open

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A general view of Court Phillippe Chatrier as Roger Federer of Switzerland serves during the men's singles first round match between Feliciano Lopez of Spain and Roger Federer of Switzerland on day two of the French Open at Roland Garros on May 23, 2011 in Paris, France. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images) #

 The French Open

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Novak Djokovic of Serbia stretches to hit a forehand during the men's singles first round match between Thiemo De Bakker of Netherlands and Novak Djokovic of Serbia on day two of the French Open at Roland Garros on May 23, 2011 in Paris, France. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images) #

 The French Open

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A detail view of the shoes belonging to Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina during the men's singles first round match between Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina and Ivo Karlovic of Croatia on day two of the French Open at Roland Garros on May 23, 2011 in Paris, France. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images) #

 The French Open

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Heather Watson of Great Britain celebrates during the women's singles round one match between Stephanie Foretz Gacon of France and Heather Watson of Great Britain on day two of the French Open at Roland Garros on May 23, 2011 in Paris, France. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images) #

 The French Open

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Marion Bartoli of France plays a backhand during the women's singles round one match between Marion Bartoli of France and Anna Tatishvili of Georgia on day two of the French Open at Roland Garros on May 23, 2011 in Paris, France. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images) #

 The French Open

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Michael Berrer of Germany serves during the men's singles first round match between Michael Berrer of Germany and Milos Raonic of Canada on day two of the French Open at Roland Garros on May 23, 2011 in Paris, France. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) #

 The French Open

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Andy Murray of Great Britain plays a forehand during the men's singles round one match between Andy Murray of Great Britain and Eric Prodon of France on day three of the French Open at Roland Garros on May 24, 2011 in Paris, France. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images) #

 The French Open

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Maria Sharapova of Russia serves during the women's singles round one match between Maria Sharapova of Russia and Mirjana Lucic of Croatia on day three of the French Open at Roland Garros on May 24, 2011 in Paris, France. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) #

 The French Open

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Johanna Larsson of Sweden serves during the women's singles round one match between Johanna Larsson of Sweden and Ana Ivanovic of Serbia on day three of the French Open at Roland Garros on May 24, 2011 in Paris, France. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images) #

 The French Open

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Rafael Nadal of Spain serves during the men's singles round one match between Rafael Nadal of Spain and John Isner of USA on day three of the French Open at Roland Garros on May 24, 2011 in Paris, France. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) #

 The French Open

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Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia celebrates a point during the women's singles round one match between Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia and Vania King of USA on day three of the French Open at Roland Garros on May 24, 2011 in Paris, France. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) #

 The French Open

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Vania King of USA hits a forehand during the women's singles round one match between Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia and Vania King of USA on day three of the French Open at Roland Garros on May 24, 2011 in Paris, France. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) #

 The French Open

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A dejected Ana Ivanovic of Serbia reacts as she heads towards defeat during the women's singles round one match between Johanna Larsson of Sweden and Ana Ivanovic of Serbia on day three of the French Open at Roland Garros on May 24, 2011 in Paris, France. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images) #

 The French Open

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Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates match point during the men's singles round one match between Rafael Nadal of Spain and John Isner of USA on day three of the French Open at Roland Garros on May 24, 2011 in Paris, France. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) #

 The French Open

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John Isner of USA serves during the men's singles round one match between Rafael Nadal of Spain and John Isner of USA on day three of the French Open at Roland Garros on May 24, 2011 in Paris, France. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) #

 The French Open

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Ryan Harrison of USA stretches for a forehand during the men's singles round one match between Ryan Harrison of USA and Robin Soderling of Sweden on day three of the French Open at Roland Garros on May 24, 2011 in Paris, France. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images) #

 The French Open

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Rafael Nadal of Spain looks on during the men's singles round one match between Rafael Nadal of Spain and John Isner of USA on day three of the French Open at Roland Garros on May 24, 2011 in Paris, France. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images) #

 The French Open

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Anastasiya Yakimova of Belarus hits a forehand during the women's singles round one match between Anastasiya Yakimova of Belarus and Kim Clijsters of Belgium on day three of the French Open at Roland Garros on May 24, 2011 in Paris, France. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images) #

 The French Open

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Rafael Nadal of Spain shows his dejection during the men's singles round one match between Rafael Nadal of Spain and John Isner of USA on day three of the French Open at Roland Garros on May 24, 2011 in Paris, France. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images) #

 The French Open

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Fernando Verdasco of Spain hits a forehand during the men's singles round one match between Juan Monaco of Argentina and Fernando Verdasco of Spain on day three of the French Open at Roland Garros on May 24, 2011 in Paris, France. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images) #

 The French Open

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Rafael Nadal of Spain shows his dejection during the men's singles round one match between Rafael Nadal of Spain and John Isner of USA on day three of the French Open at Roland Garros on May 24, 2011 in Paris, France. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images) #

 The French Open

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Juan Monaco of Argentina serves during the men's singles round one match between Juan Monaco of Argentina and Fernando Verdasco of Spain on day three of the French Open at Roland Garros on May 24, 2011 in Paris, France. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images) #

 The French Open

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Belarus' Victoria Azarenka returns the ball to Czech Republic's Andrea Hlavackova during their first round match of the French Open tennis tournament, at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris, Tuesday, May 24, 2011. (AP Photo/Michel Euler) #

 The French Open

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Russia's Maria Sharapova blows a kiss to the public after defeating Croatia's Mirjana Lucic during their first round match of the French Open tennis tournament, at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris, Tuesday, May, 24, 2011. (AP Photo/Michel Spingler) #

 The French Open

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Coco Vandeweghe of the US balances the ball on her fingers in her match against Maria Kirilenko of Russia during the first round match of the French Open tennis tournament at Roland Garros stadium in Paris, Monday May 23, 2011. (AP Photo/Michel Euler) #

 The French Open

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French tennis lover Marion shows her support for Spanish tennis player Rafael Nadal at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris, Saturday, May, 21, 2011. The French Open tennis tournament starts Sunday. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena) #

 The French Open

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Defending champion Spain's Rafael Nadal serves the ball to USA's John Isner during their first round match of the French Open tennis tournament, at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris, Tuesday, May 24, 2011. (AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau) #

 The French Open

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Spain's Rafael Nadal (R) returns the ball to US John Isner during their Men's first round match in the French Open tennis championship at the Roland Garros stadium, on May 24, 2011, in Paris. (THOMAS COEX/AFP/Getty Images) #

 The French Open

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Japan's Junri Namigata serves to Canada's Aleksandra Wozniak during their Women's first round match in the French Open tennis championship at the Roland Garros stadium, on May 23, 2011, in Paris. (THOMAS COEX/AFP/Getty Images) #

 The French Open

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France's Gael Monfils reacts after a point against Germany's Bjorn Phau during their Men's first round match in the French Open tennis championship at the Roland Garros stadium, on May 23, 2011, in Paris. (PATRICK KOVARIK/AFP/Getty Images) #

 The French Open

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Ball bays look at a match during the French Open tennis championship at the Roland Garros stadium, on May 24, 2011, in Paris. (JACQUES DEMARTHON/AFP/Getty Images) #

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Beginning in December of last year, a series of ongoing protests in the streets of Tunisia escalated to the point where President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali - who had ruled the country for 23 years - at first declared he would not seek re-election, then fled the country on January 14th. An interim government was assembled, but protesters remain in the streets, demanding removal of all traces of Ben Ali's old RCD party. Protesters' frustrations with high unemployment, inflation and corruption drove them to the streets after a pivotal event, when a young Tunisian vendor named Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire after police confiscated his produce cart. Bouazizi died of his injuries days later. Collected here are images of the turmoil in Tunisia over the past couple of weeks. (40 photos total)
People demonstrate during a protest in central Tunis on January 17, 2011. After weeks of demonstrations, Tunisian protesters called for the abolition of ousted president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali's ruling party on January 17 amid a chaotic power vacuum as politicians prepared a government of national unity. Hundreds of people rallied in Tunis and there were similar protests in Sidi Bouzid and Regueb in central Tunisia -- two towns at the heart of the movement that forced Ben Ali to resign and flee on Friday after 23 years in power. (MARTIN BUREAU/AFP/Getty Images)

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