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the 2011 Tour de France

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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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The 98th Tour de France cycling race came to a close in Paris last Sunday, July 24th, as BMC Racing Team's Cadel Evans became the first Australian ever to win the competition. Brothers Andy and Frank Schleck placed second and third. After covering some 3,430.5 kilometers (2,132 miles) in 21 stages, and climbing to some of the highest points in Europe -- Stage 18 included a run through Col Agnel, a 2,744 meter (9,000 feet) high pass through the Alps -- riders descended to Paris on Sunday. For his win, Evans took home a prize of 450,000 euros ($651,200), a prize traditionally shared by winners with their eight other teammates. Collected here are images from the second half of the 2011 Tour de France. Don't forget to see images from Part 1, published earlier. [41 photos]

Tour de France competitors ride through the rain in the 167.5 km 11th stage of the cycling race, between Blaye-les-Mines and Lavaur, France, on July 13, 2011. (Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images)

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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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The 98th Tour de France cycling race kicked off on July 2, as 22 teams of nine riders departed from the the Passage du Gois in western France. Mark Cavendish of Britain just won the 11th stage of 21, which took place today in Lavaur, but French rider Thomas Voeckler still wears the yellow jersey of the overall leader. The first half of the tour this year has been plagued by crashes, most notably Netherlands rider Johnny Hoogerland's tumble into a barbed-wire fence after being bumped off the road by a car. The Tour continues until July 24, heading into the Alps for grueling mountain stages in the second half of the race. The entire tour will cover a distance of 3,430.5 kilometers (2,132 miles). Collected here are images from the first half of the 2011 Tour de France. Part 2 will be published when the tour is complete. [38 photos]

Tour de France cyclists pass the world heritage site Mont Saint Michel, a rocky tidal island which holds a monastery, during the sixth stage of the racee in Lisieux, Normandy, western France, on Thursday July 7, 2011. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)

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Former First Lady Betty Ford is honored and remembered at her funeral and tribute at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church in Palm Desert; the head of France’s Debout La Republique party stages a one-man protest during a debate at the French Assembly in Paris; in southwestern France, animated young fans atop a crane sporting the national flag wait for competitors in the Tour de France cycling race to pass by.

From Phoenix, we have three images of a baseball fan almost falling from the stands while trying to catch a ball during a home run derby (read more); at the British Open, John Daly doesn’t disappoint with his choice of golfing pants; we see a colorful mural in Havana; passengers on a brightly painted bus in Islamabad, Pakistan, pass the scene of an explosion.

These are a just few of the highlights; we have many more images for you from around the world today.

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