On the startline in Bagnères-de-Luchon

Day three in the Pyrenees, with a brutally hard stage taking in the Peyresourde, Aspin, Tourmalet and Aubisque. At the start, all the talk was still of yesterday’s action - not just the Schleck, Contador 'chaingate' episode but also the antics going on in the AG2R team. Shouting matches on the bus, riders wanting to kill each other, it could only be the Tour de France.

Anyway, today’s route pays homage to one of the greatest exploits in Tour history. In 1969, on a stage that crossed the same four passes as today's, race leader Eddy Merckx launched a solo attack at the foot of the Aubisque and rode away to the finish in Mourenx, just west of Pau, arriving almost eight minutes clear of his rivals.

It would be astounding to see anyone attempt to copy the Belgian's incredible ride, especially given the long run-in to the finish.
For now, enjoy these images from the start.

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