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Tour de France 2019: Eddy Merckx, cols and "The Devil"

By Paul Gittings, CNN

Published 0934 GMT (1734 HKT) July 5, 2019
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A designed portrait of Eddy Merckx features on Tour de France posters, with the 2019 start in his native Belgium in honor of his achievements with this year the 50th anniversary of his first Tour win in 1969. JEFF PACHOUD/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Merckx (yellow jersey) won the last of his record five Tour de France wins in 1974, seen her racing in the velodrome municipal in Vincennes on his way to victory. STAFF/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
The stark slopes of the punishing Col du Tourmalet will again feature in this year's race when the Tour hits the Pyrenees. PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Romain Bardet is sure to attract a massive home following as he bids to become the first Frenchman in 34 years to win the Tour de France. PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Team Ineos joint team leaders, Colombia's Egan Bernal and Britain's Geraint Thomas share a moment on a training ride before the start of the 106th Tour de France. ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Maybe an omen? Colombia's Egan Bernal celebrates his overall leader yellow jersey after winning the Paris-Nice race earlier this year. He is among the favorites for this year's Tour de France. ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
It was celebrations all round last year as Thomas won the Tour with help from his Team Sky teammate Chris Froome, but there will be no repeat with Froome sidelined after a horror crash. MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
A field of sunflowers provides the perfect foreground as the tightly packed peloton of the Tour de France passes by. MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Cycling fans will pack the roadsides of this year's Tour especially on the key mountain stages in the Alps and Pyrenees. PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
France's Julian Alaphilippe, wearing the best climber's polka dot jersey, seizes the fork of legendary Tour de France fan Didi Senft, nicknamed "The Devil," during the 17th stage of last year's race. "The Devil" is sure ot make his customary appearances this year. JEFF PACHOUD/AFP/AFP/Getty Images