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Waiting for the Tour de France - Gallery

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Even the Movistar riders got a grab bag of goodies as the top team

Even the Movistar riders got a grab bag of goodies as the top team
(Image credit: Chris Graythen / Getty Images)
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The Tour always attracts the biggest riders

The Tour always attracts the biggest riders
(Image credit: Chris Graythen / Getty Images)
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Cheering for the trace to start

Cheering for the trace to start
(Image credit: Chris Graythen / Getty Images)
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France 1 in the house

France 1 in the house
(Image credit: Chris Graythen / Getty Images)
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Polka dot caps for the crowd

Polka dot caps for the crowd
(Image credit: Chris Graythen / Getty Images)
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More chickens at the race

More chickens at the race
(Image credit: Chris Graythen / Getty Images)
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Is Peter Sagan inside?

Is Peter Sagan inside?
(Image credit: Chris Graythen / Getty Images)
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Skoda sponsors the green jersey

Skoda sponsors the green jersey
(Image credit: Chris Graythen / Getty Images)
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A nice cool down on a hot day

A nice cool down on a hot day
(Image credit: Chris Graythen / Getty Images)
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Every convertible in France may be in this parade

Every convertible in France may be in this parade
(Image credit: Chris Graythen / Getty Images)
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A thank you for the host city

A thank you for the host city
(Image credit: Chris Graythen / Getty Images)
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"Merci Carcassonne"

"Merci Carcassonne"
(Image credit: Chris Graythen / Getty Images)
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This fan has a jerseys cheat sheet

This fan has a jerseys cheat sheet
(Image credit: Chris Graythen / Getty Images)
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It's hat time!

It's hat time!
(Image credit: Chris Graythen / Getty Images)
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I think we found Nemo

I think we found Nemo
(Image credit: Chris Graythen / Getty Images)
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France is all about the frites

France is all about the frites
(Image credit: Chris Graythen / Getty Images)
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Tractors and frites take center stage

Tractors and frites take center stage
(Image credit: Chris Graythen / Getty Images)
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That's one Hell of a shoe

That's one Hell of a shoe
(Image credit: Chris Graythen / Getty Images)
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Cofidis is in on the action

Cofidis is in on the action
(Image credit: Chris Graythen / Getty Images)
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Continental tyres riding in style

Continental tyres riding in style
(Image credit: Chris Graythen / Getty Images)
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Spectators appreciate the chance to cool off

Spectators appreciate the chance to cool off
(Image credit: Chris Graythen / Getty Images)
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More green jerseys

More green jerseys
(Image credit: Chris Graythen / Getty Images)
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Those are some mighty big glasses you have there

Those are some mighty big glasses you have there
(Image credit: Chris Graythen / Getty Images)
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Wake up! The race is coming

Wake up! The race is coming
(Image credit: Chris Graythen / Getty Images)
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Haribo has a big presence

Haribo has a big presence
(Image credit: Chris Graythen / Getty Images)
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Would you like a large orange?

Would you like a large orange?
(Image credit: Chris Graythen / Getty Images)
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The yellow jersey is huge in France

The yellow jersey is huge in France
(Image credit: Chris Graythen / Getty Images)
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You can watch the race on TV until it arrives

You can watch the race on TV until it arrives
(Image credit: Chris Graythen / Getty Images)
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Get your green jerseys here!

Get your green jerseys here!
(Image credit: Chris Graythen / Getty Images)
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Some Norwegian fans made the trip

Some Norwegian fans made the trip
(Image credit: Chris Graythen / Getty Images)
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More chicken!

More chicken!
(Image credit: Chris Graythen / Getty Images)
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Bic lighters are on scene in the publicity caravan

Bic lighters are on scene in the publicity caravan
(Image credit: Chris Graythen / Getty Images)
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This tractor may be lost

This tractor may be lost
(Image credit: Chris Graythen / Getty Images)
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Krys supplies the eye wear for the crowd

Krys supplies the eye wear for the crowd
(Image credit: Chris Graythen / Getty Images)
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You might even catch a bus

You might even catch a bus
(Image credit: Chris Graythen / Getty Images)
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Pounding the barriers for swag

Pounding the barriers for swag
(Image credit: Chris Graythen / Getty Images)
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Did he bring enough for everyone?

Did he bring enough for everyone?
(Image credit: Chris Graythen / Getty Images)
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Mmmm candy!

Mmmm candy!
(Image credit: Chris Graythen / Getty Images)
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The squeaky gear gets the grease

The squeaky gear gets the grease
(Image credit: Chris Graythen / Getty Images)
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Do you feel lucky?

Do you feel lucky?
(Image credit: Chris Graythen / Getty Images)
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More giant frites

More giant frites
(Image credit: Chris Graythen / Getty Images)
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There's a lot to keep an eye on before the race arrives

There's a lot to keep an eye on before the race arrives
(Image credit: Chris Graythen / Getty Images)

It's not all fast descents and swooping corners at the Tour de France. Take the publicity caravan, for example. The brightly coloured parade that precedes the peloton exists primarily to entertain the crowds that wait hours for a few seconds of excitement as the race passes by.

Race sponsors and various vendors use the time to market their wares and engage with fans along the route, offering an onslaught of freebies and giveaways that keep the spectators decked out in polka dot hats, green jerseys and extra-large glasses.

Loud music and dancing typify the passing party, as oversized, frites, fish and farm implements parade in front of the pleading throngs, keeping them amped up before the race arrives. It's just one of the oddities that makes the Tour de France a unique event in the world of sport.

Click or swipe through the gallery above for a glimpse of the caravan characters.