All the drama and passion in images
The popularity of the Tour de France has much to do with the photogenic nature of the event. Travelling through myriad landscapes - from Monaco to Marseille, Barcelona to Le Grand Bornand - la Grande Boucle is a travelling postcard featuring France's countryside, regardless of the climatic conditions.
Add to this the drama of a 200-rider peloton racing around 3,500km in the year's biggest event and it's easy to see why the Tour is so seductive for the diehard cycling fan or layperson alike.
The glitz of the opening time trial in Monaco showcased the municipality's glamour, the helter-skelter of stage three showed us the challenges inherit in racing the year's biggest race and the team time trial was full of drama and action.
The Pyrenees saw the emergence of this year's champion, Alberto Contador, while the Alps were a chance for his rivals to try and crack the Astana rider as he fought to prove his credentials from within his own team. He held firm and Paris was again a city of celebration for Spain's latest Grand Tour star.
This year Cyclingnews featured images from the likes of veteran Italian photographers Roberto Bettini and Sirotti, plus the best of Agence France Presse's collection of shots from France's biggest annual sporting event.
In this gallery we look at some of the best photos from Tour de France 2009, a memorable edition for the drama of its racing and beauty of its parcours.
Cyclingnews has also assembled galleries of some of the key actors in the performance that was the Tour. Please click on the links below for a pictorial perspective of each rider's Tour de France:
Christian Vande Velde
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