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Tour de France: stage 15 start gallery

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Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) reads all about it in Limoux.

Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) reads all about it in Limoux.
(Image credit: Barry Ryan)
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Stephen Roche is given the icon treatment in the start village at Limoux.

Stephen Roche is given the icon treatment in the start village at Limoux.
(Image credit: Barry Ryan)
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Laurens Ten Dam (Rabobank) starts in spite of his facial injuries.

Laurens Ten Dam (Rabobank) starts in spite of his facial injuries.
(Image credit: Barry Ryan)
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For the road. Andy Schleck (Leopard Trek) lines up in Limoux.

For the road. Andy Schleck (Leopard Trek) lines up in Limoux.
(Image credit: Barry Ryan)
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Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) is enjoying his Tour de France.

Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) is enjoying his Tour de France.
(Image credit: Barry Ryan)
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Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-SunGard) and Jerome Coppel (Saur-Sojasun) before stage 15 of the Tour de France.

Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-SunGard) and Jerome Coppel (Saur-Sojasun) before stage 15 of the Tour de France.
(Image credit: Barry Ryan)
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Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) was in demand at Limoux.

Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) was in demand at Limoux.
(Image credit: Barry Ryan)
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Frank Schleck (Leopard Trek) in determined mood.

Frank Schleck (Leopard Trek) in determined mood.
(Image credit: Barry Ryan)
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Damiano Cunego (Lampre-ISD) is upbeat about his overall chances.

Damiano Cunego (Lampre-ISD) is upbeat about his overall chances.
(Image credit: Barry Ryan)
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Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar) gives an interview before the off.

Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar) gives an interview before the off.
(Image credit: Barry Ryan)
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Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale) looks increasingly like a podium finisher in this Tour.

Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale) looks increasingly like a podium finisher in this Tour.
(Image credit: Barry Ryan)
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Nicolas Roche (Ag2r-La Mondiale) is still battling for a high overall finish.

Nicolas Roche (Ag2r-La Mondiale) is still battling for a high overall finish.
(Image credit: Barry Ryan)
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Jelle Vanendert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) is now king of the mountains.

Jelle Vanendert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) is now king of the mountains.
(Image credit: Barry Ryan)
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Jean-Christophe Peraud (Ag2r-La Mondiale) smiles before another day in the saddle.

Jean-Christophe Peraud (Ag2r-La Mondiale) smiles before another day in the saddle.
(Image credit: Barry Ryan)
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IMG_4420 - Todays weather is cold,cloudy and rain from the start to finish

IMG_4420 - Todays weather is cold,cloudy and rain from the start to finish
(Image credit: Barry Ryan)
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Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) has carefully labelled his socks to avoid confusion.

Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) has carefully labelled his socks to avoid confusion.
(Image credit: Barry Ryan)
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HTC-Highroad's Bob Stapleton talks sponsorship before the start in Limoux.

HTC-Highroad's Bob Stapleton talks sponsorship before the start in Limoux.
(Image credit: Barry Ryan)
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Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) now has a pride of lions to keep him company on the team bus.

Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) now has a pride of lions to keep him company on the team bus.
(Image credit: Barry Ryan)
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Cadel Evans (BMC) and his press officer wait for the start.

Cadel Evans (BMC) and his press officer wait for the start.
(Image credit: Barry Ryan)

After the tense, tactical battle among the overall contenders in the Pyrenees, the sprinters were expected to dominate proceedings on the road to Montpellier on stage 15 of the Tour de France. The 193km route through Languedoc may be predominantly flat, but the crosswinds that characterise the region might well split the peloton on the fast run-in to the finish.

Jeered at the start in the Vendée two weeks ago, Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-SunGard) was cheered enthusiastically as he signed on just before the start, but the most raucous shouts were reserved for Thomas Voeckler (Europcar). The Frenchman’s stirring defence of his yellow jersey in the Pyrenees has stoked home hopes of victory, and the crowds thronged around his team bus before the off.

To see Cyclingnews’ exclusive gallery from the start line, click here.