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On the startline in Bagnères-de-Luchon

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Today the yellow jersey has the Astana logo on it

Today the yellow jersey has the Astana logo on it
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-Farnese Vini) answers question about his links to the police investigation in Italy

Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-Farnese Vini) answers question about his links to the police investigation in Italy
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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The Wilier-Triestina bikes outside the Lampre-Farnese Vini bus

The Wilier-Triestina bikes outside the Lampre-Farnese Vini bus
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Christophe Moreau (Caisse d'Epargne)

Christophe Moreau (Caisse d'Epargne)
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Sandy Casar (Francaise des Jeux)

Sandy Casar (Francaise des Jeux)
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Francis De Greef and Matt Lloyd head to sign on

Francis De Greef and Matt Lloyd head to sign on
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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The red, white and blue Ridley bikes ridden by Katusha

The red, white and blue Ridley bikes ridden by Katusha
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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The Team Sky fans had a prime spot overlooking the start

The Team Sky fans had a prime spot overlooking the start
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Former Tour de France winner Joop Zoetemelk presents Jurgen Van Den Broeck with the Bonne Humeur prize

Former Tour de France winner Joop Zoetemelk presents Jurgen Van Den Broeck with the Bonne Humeur prize
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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The black and blue Pinarello bikes on the Team Sky car

The black and blue Pinarello bikes on the Team Sky car
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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The Cervelo bikes await their riders

The Cervelo bikes await their riders
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Would you like to drive this vehicle through the Pyrenees

Would you like to drive this vehicle through the Pyrenees
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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This dog advertises tyres

This dog advertises tyres
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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The publicity caravan includes mobile gas bottles

The publicity caravan includes mobile gas bottles
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Petacchi told media at the start that he does not know why he is under investigation

Petacchi told media at the start that he does not know why he is under investigation
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)

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.