Gallery: The publicity caravan of the Tour de France

When the race becomes a sideshow

The Tour de France is first and foremost cycling's biggest and most prestigious stage race in the world. But preceding the peloton from start to finish is another spectacle: the publicity caravan.

Consisting of dozens of elaborately crafted specialty vehicles and taking nearly an hour to pass, it's a daily parade – and a parade of advertising and small giveaways – that, according to the Tour de France, is actually the main draw for nearly 40 percent of spectators on hand.

Take a look at some of the elements that bring all those people in. The Tour de France may be a bicycle race but for at least a portion of the folks at roadside, the peloton is merely a sideshow.

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