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The Tour de France reached its customary mountain denouement in the third week, where the strongest and least-fatigued came to the fore while others were swept from the race entirely. It was a week of career-defining solo victories, battles at altitude and the birth of a fascinating new rivalry.

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The yellow jersey wraps the same slender shoulders as it has for most of the race and the chasm between first and second still gapes wide, all but the top dog left scrapping for minor places. The Tour de France is a litmus test for team strength and discipline, but it can also provide a learning curve steeper than the Tourmalet itself. One team has grown into a fighting force, while others – those once considered strongest – have seemed to flounder.

Youth and innovation are the the talk of contemporary cycling, not just in the age of those winning, but in the technology that helps them along the way. This Tour has confirmed the ‘new generation’, and yet at the same time, veteran experience has shown its worth. The experience of repetition, analogue road knowledge and dogged determination deliver a magic so familiar as to be reassuring for anyone watching on.

Thanks to our photographer Chris Auld for capturing the race. See more of his work on Instagram @cauldphoto.