IBTimes UK presents the best photos of the action and the spectators along the route of the 2017 Tour de France, the world's biggest cycling event.

The 104th Tour de France began on Saturday 1 July with a 14-kilometre (8.7-mile) individual time trial up and down the banks of the Rhine River in Duesseldorf. Team Sky's Geraint Thomas won the wet and slippery opening stage to claim the yellow jersey.

The second stage – a 203.5km ride from Duesseldorf in Germany to Liege in Belgium – was won by Germany's Marcel Kittel of the Quick-Step Floors team. Defending champion Chris Froome was among a mass of riders involved in a crash 30kms from the finish. Britain's Geraint Thomas of Team Sky retained the overall leader's yellow jersey with a margin of five seconds from Switzerland's Stefan Kueng.

Despite a last minute equipment glitch, world champion Peter Sagan powered to victory in the 212.5 km third stage, between Verviers in Belgium and Longwy in France. Britain's Geraint Thomas of Team Sky finished two seconds off the pace but retained the overall leader's yellow jersey. Defending champion Chris Froome moved up to second overall, 12 seconds behind his team mate.

French champion Arnaud Demare claimed his maiden Tour de France stage win when he powered to victory in a crash-marred 207.5km fourth stage from Mondorf-les-Bains in Luxembourg to Vittel in France. Britain's Mark Cavendish was forced out of the Tour de France with a fractured shoulder after being elbowed off balance by world champion Peter Sagan, who took second place but was kicked out of the tour altogether.

Overall, Geraint Thomas leads Sky teammate Chris Froome by 12 seconds, with third-place Michael Matthews of Australia also 12 seconds back.

The 160.5-kilometre fifth stage begins in Vittel and concludes with the first serious climb of the Tour, winding its way to La Planche Des Belles Filles with a short but steep finishing ascent that features a leg-breaking 20-percent gradient in the final metres.

Tour de France 2017
5 July 2017: The peloton sets off at the start of the fifth stage Benoit Tessier/Reuters

The 2017 Tour de France will conclude with the Champs-Élysées stage in Paris on 23 July 2017.