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LIONEL BONAVENTURE

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In today’s pictures, a baby is baptized in Tbilisi, Georgia, planes scoop up water from a reservoir to fight a wildfire in Spain, horseback riders wave to Tour de France cyclists in France, and more.

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The second collection of images from 2011 once again brought us nature at its full force with floods, drought, wild fires, tornadoes and spectacular images of volcanic eruptions. The death of Osama bin Laden, the attack on an island in Norway by a lone gunman, continued fighting in Libya, and protests around the globe were a few of the news events dominating the headlines. -- Lloyd Young Please see part 1 from Monday and watch for part 3 Friday. (45 photos total)
A cloud of ash billowing from Puyehue volcano near Osorno in southern Chile, 870 km south of Santiago, on June 5. Puyehue volcano erupted for the first time in half a century on June 4, 2011, prompting evacuations for 3,500 people as it sent a cloud of ash that reached Argentina. The National Service of Geology and Mining said the explosion that sparked the eruption also produced a column of gas 10 kilometers (six miles) high, hours after warning of strong seismic activity in the area. (Claudio Santana/AFP/Getty Images) )

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Sri Lankan prisoners prepare to perform a traditional dance at the main Welikada prison in Colombo November 17, 2011. The cultural event is organized by the prisons department as part of the rehabilitation program for convicts, according to officials. Occupy Los Angeles protesters march through downtown during a rally Thursday, Nov. 17, 2011. Occupy Wall [...]

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SIRTE, Libya (AP) — Moammar Gadhafi, Libya’s dictator for 42 years until he was ousted in an uprising-turned-civil war, was killed Thursday as revolutionary fighters overwhelmed his hometown of Sirte and captured the last major bastion of resistance two months after his regime fell. Interim government officials said one of Gadhafi’s sons, his former national [...]

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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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SHADE RELIEF SHADE RELIEF: A woman stopped to rest in the shade while going into a Salvation Army as temperatures in Dallas reached triple digits Friday. A dangerous heat wave blanketed dozens of U.S. states. (Larry W. Smith/European Pressphoto Agency)

MOTHER AND CHILD MOTHER AND CHILD: A Somali woman held her child Friday as she stood next to a Somali government soldier at a camp in Mogadishu that was set up to help people who have been displaced by famine and a severe drought affecting the Horn of Africa. (Mustafa Abdi/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

BUS MONITOR BUS MONITOR: A masked man carrying a stick guarded the inside of a public bus Thursday in Guatemala City. Residents organized armed groups to patrol the streets. (Rodrigo Abd/Associated Press)

BACK OFF BACK OFF: Alberto Contador, Spain’s three-time Tour de France winner, punched a man dressed up as a doctor as he climbed Alpe d’Huez in the nineteenth stage of the 2011 Tour de France race Friday. (Lionel Bonaventure/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

A RALLY A RALLY: Supporters of Yemen’s President Ali Abdullah Saleh attended a rally to show their support after Friday prayers in San’a. (Suhaib Salem/Reuters)

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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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