You may not have known, with Lance Armstrong no longer participating and all, but the Tour de France still exists.
Some of the world's best cyclists have been pedaling through France this summer, on their way to the finish line in Paris, a tradition started in 1903.
The annual event came about as an idea to increase sales for French sports magazine, L'Auto (now known as L'Equipe). A 26-year-old cycling and rugby writer at the time, Géo Lefèvre, suggested a bicycle race round France to promote the publication. The idea worked -- circulation jumped from 25,000 readers just before the first Tour to 65,000. By 1923, L'Auto was selling 500,000 copies a day.
The Tour has long since evolved into a cultural celebration, a staple of summertime in France. The month-long event attracts approximately 15 million spectators throughout the country, some who camp out to well in advance to get the best view of the cyclists passing through their town.
The United Kingdom's Christopher Froome is currently the leader in this year's race, wearing the famous yellow jersey. The race concludes July 21 with a final stage that takes the cyclists from Versailles to the Champs--Élysées.
Below, via Reuters, scenes from this year's race so far as the world's best cyclists trek through some of the world's most picturesque landscapes, passing a diverse range of fans along the way:
The list skews toward larger cities and metropolitan areas along the Eastern corridor, stretching as far north as Toronto and as far south as Miami. And it looks like some of the economic incentives might be paying off.