The annual Tour de France is among the most grueling races in all of sports.
But every summer, hundreds of cyclists brave the plains, the mountains, the sun and the rain of France (and often the surrounding countries) to complete the 3,500-plus kilometer trek.
Fame? Sure, names like Lance Armstrong, Greg LeMond and defending champion Alberto Contador will go down in the annals of cycling history.
Money? Certainly, the winners make some dough from winning and from the sponsorship deals that can result.
The challenge of it all? No doubt, there are some competitors just looking to see where they rank among the top athletes in the sport.
But there's another reason to race.
If you win, you get to stand on the podium with some of the world's most beautiful women.
Whether they're delivering handshakes, kisses or the radiant yellow jersey, these ladies serve as serious motivation to get your bike to the finish line as quickly as possible.
Come with me, won't you, as we take a trek of our own through some of the most lovely podium girls of past Tours de France.
Defending champion and two-time winner of the Tour, Alberto Contador celebrates his first title with some lovely podium girls in 2007.
Lance Armstrong celebrates on the podium with an admiring (and married?) onlooker during his most recent Tour de France win in 2005.
Though he was stripped of his 2006 title after a positive doping test, Floyd Landis still got to celebrate his yellow jersey with some similarly yellow-clad hostesses.
Ah, it's good to be on the podium ...
... or just a journalist.
Not sure if this is even at the Tour de France, but something tells me this guy doesn't mind.
Don't think this is a Tour shot either, but this guy's happy to be right where he is at the moment.
Lance Armstrong got to spend a good amount of time between various podium girls during his seven titles in France.
Here a podium girl in 2003, Melanie Simonneau caught the eye of Armstrong's former teammate, American rider George Hincapie.
The two are now married with two children.
Here is the lovely Melanie Hincapie during the 2007 race.
But there's still something about being the target of two hotties' affections.
Yes, there is.
OK, forget the athletes.
Let's focus on the podium girls from here on out.
Here's the gorgeous American Laura Antoine during the 2009 Tour.
Another look at Laura Antoine, along with an interview.
No, we should be clapping for you.
Laura and fellow podium girl Filipa watch the 2009 Tour on a big screen.
I don't care how silly the dress might look. Wow.
Here we have Magali, who at age 26 was a podium girl for the Tour last summer.
Magali prior to the Stage 11 awards ceremony.
Magali was so sweet, she even did an interview with Veloworld about what it's like to be a podium girl at the Tour de France.
Violane and Magali during Stage 11 at the 2009 Tour.
Violane preps for her big moment.
Laura and Emmanuelle share a laugh before the Stage 11 ceremony in 2009.
No, no, we should be awarding YOU with a prize.
No, no, YOU deserve the applause.
No, we should clearly be celebrating YOU.
Waiting for her ceremony in 2007.
Still not sure about the dress, but hey, "V" is for victory.
Bellissima in blue.
Perfect in polka dots.
Radiant in red.
Radiant in red times two.
Beautiful in black.
To the victor go the spoils.
Yikes, and I mean serious spoils.
These winners are really, really spoiled!
A Champion podium girl from the 2003 Tour.
Fellow podium girls from the 2009 event.
Podium girls from 2007.
Laura from 2009.
Laura with a friend.
I'm not sure why, but I have a hankering for a Vittel ... whatever that is.
All of the lovely ladies from the 2009 Tour bid you adieu.
Hope to see you out on the course in 2010!