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Tour de France photos

British cyclist Mark Cavendish

The Tour de France gets under way in Brest with Mark Cavendish and David Millar carrying British hopes

Erik Zabel

German Erik Zabel is one of the high-profile riders hoping to make an impact on the Tour this year

Fans gather at the Tour de France

As always, thousands of people gather to catch a glimpse of the riders and cheer them on

Remy Di Gregorio signs autographs

Frenchman Remy Di Gregorio is guaranteed to get the support of the spectators as he competes on home soil

Thomas Voeckler (right) and Spanish duo Ruben Perez and David de la Fuente

The 197.5km stage begins and Thomas Voeckler (right) and Spanish duo Ruben Perez and David de la Fuente form an early breakaway

The Tour de France peloton

The peloton is happy to allow the leaders to open up an eight-minute lead as they wind their way through numerous villages

The flag of Brest is displayed

Many of the locals fly the flag of Brittany while cheering the riders as they make the long journey to Plumelec

Lilian Jegou

Slowly the peloton begins to reel in the breakaway, but Breton favourite Lilian Jegou and David De La Fuente make a strike for home

Alejandro Valverde (right) leads the sprint finish

The leaders are caught with seven kilometres remaining setting up a huge sprint finish up the Côte de Cadoual - locally known as the Breton Alpe d'Huez

Alejandro Valverde celebrates winning the opening stage of the 2008 Tour de France

And Spanish champion Alejandro Valverde proves the strongest up the climb to take his second career Tour stage win

Thomas Voeckler

Voeckler is rewarded for his exertions in the eight-man breakaway with the King of the Mountains jersey

Alejandro Valverde tries on the yellow jersey

But it is Valverde who will wear the coveted yellow jersey on the second stage which sees the riders race from Auray to Saint-Brieuc

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