Tour de France cyclists pass by sunflowers

Left to right: South Africa's Daryl Impey, France's Jeremy Roy, Slovakia's Peter Sagan and France's Julien El Fares. Photo: Jeff Pachoud/AFP/Getty Images

Road cycling excellence

A group of cyclists participating in this year's Tour de France race past hundreds of sunflowers on June 14 while breaking away from the rest of the peloton in the 15th stage — a 242.5 km stretch between Givors and Mont Ventoux in southeastern France.

To celebrate the 100th edition of the tour, organizers planned the route on exclusively French soil and made its first ever visit to the French Mediterranean island of Corsica. The grueling 23-day road race includes 8 flat stages, 3 hilly stages, 7 mountain stages, 2 individual time trials and one team time trial.

As per tradition, the epic race will conclude on July 21 along the Champs-Élysées in Paris.

* * * 
 
Britain's Christopher Froome wears the yellow leader jersey while competing in the eleventh stage of the Tour de France

Photo: Jeff Pachoud/AFP/Getty Images

Scenic joyride?

Spectators in Mont Saint-Michel cheer as Great Britain's Christopher Froome of Team Sky Procycling speeds by wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey during the 33 km individual time-trial and 11th stage on July 10.

After cinching the yellow jersey in stage 8, Froome has maintained the lead ever since. After placing second in last year's tour, Froome is considered the favorite to win this year.

* * * 
 
Tour de France cyclists ride from Gap to l'Alpe d'Huez

Photo: Doug PensingerGetty Images

Defending the jersey

Sky Procycling, a British professional cycling team, leads the peloton past the mountains of Chauffayer on July 18 to defend the yellow leader's jersey for Chris Froome during stage 18, a 172.5 km journey from Gap to l'Alpe d'Huez.

* * * 
 
 Matteo Trentin of Italy celebrates winning stage fourteen of the Tour de France

Photo: Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

A sprint to victory

Italy's Matteo Trentin, riding for the Omega Pharma-Quickstep team, celebrates on July 13 after winning stage 14, a 191 km road stage from Saint-Pourcain-sur-Sioule to Lyon.

* * * 
 
Netherlands' Johnny Hoogerland falls during the Tour de France

Photo: Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images

Knocked off his wheels

Netherlands' Johnny Hoogerland is seen tangled in his bicycle and a race banner after falling during the tour's 1st stage on June 29.

* * * 
 
Chris Froome of Great Britain rides during stage eleven of the TDF

Photo: Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

Time trials

The dramatic spire of Mont Saint-Michel protrudes from the horizon as Chris Froome of Great Britain competes on July 10 in Avranches.

* * * 
 
Jean-Christophe Peraud and teammate Romain Bardet recover after the end of stage eight

Photo: Brynn Lennon/Getty Images

Hydration is essential

French cyclists Jean-Christophe Peraud (left) and Romain Bardet recover on July 6 after finishing stage 8, which involved a 195 km stretch of road from Castres to Domaines in southern France.

* * * 
 
Tour de France spectator rides a penny farthing

Photo: Pascal Guyot/AFP/Getty Images

An eccentric fanbase

A spectator wearing a yellow jersey and a tuxedo jacket rides a penny farthing on July 11 while cheering on the competitors as they begin the tour's 12th stage, which runs 218 km from Fougeres to Tours in northwestern France.

* * * 
 
The peloton passes through countryside during stage seven of the Tour de France

Photo: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

A gaggle of cyclists

The peloton passes through the idyllic countryside of Montpellier on July 5 during stage 7.

* * * 
 
New Zealand's Jack Bauer is given medical assitance after falling at Stage 19

Photo: Joel Saget/Getty Images

Crash and burn

After a tragic crash during the 19th stage, New Zealand's Jack Bauer receives medical assistance on the side of the road on July 19 between Bourg-d'Oisans and Le Grand-Bornand in the French Alps.

Bauer, who was forced to pull out of the rest of the tour, sustained bloody facial injuries after running off the road and colliding with a barbwire fence.

* * * 
 
USA's Tejay Van Garderen leads the breakaway during stage 18 of the Tour de France

Photo: Pascal Guyot/Getty Images

Leader of the pack

USA's Tejay Van Garderen leads the breakaway on July 18 near the end of the mountainous stage 18 in l'Alpe d'Huez.

* * * 
 
Peter Sagan of Slovakia slaps his teammate's butt while posing for a team photo on the eve of the Tour de France

Photo: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Extra friendly camraderie

Peter Sagan (second from right) of Slovakia jokingly slaps the butt of his Cannondale teammate while posing for a group photo in Porto-Vecchio on June 28, the night before the start of the Tour de France.

* * * 
 
The peloton rides by the coast during stage one of the Tour de France.

Photo: Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

Racing past paradise

On their way to Bastia, the peloton rides by the scenic coast of Sari-Solenzara, Corsica on June 29.

* * * 
 
Cyclists ride past spectators in the Tour de France

Photo: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Epic climbing action

A throng of supporters surround a group of cyclists — Spain's Alberto Contador and Mikel Nieve, Colombia's Jose Serpa and Denmark's Jakob Fuglsang — trying to conquer the second climb of l'Alpe-d'Huez during stage 18 on July 18.

* * * 
 
Catie Leary is a photo editor at Mother Nature Network. Follow her on Twitter and Google+.