Take a look at some of the unsung heroes of the sport of cycling. The domestiques have done a great job in protecting their leaders in the Tour de France so far

After stage five of the Tour de France, Movistar tweeted this gem of a photo of little Nairo Quintana taking a glimpse around his human shield, Alejandro Valverde to check out what was happening up the road.

The vast majority of the accolades in cycling go to the winning rider, but let’s not forget those hardy souls who grind themselves into the ground to get their man to the line. So let’s take a look at a few of the unsung heroes of of the Tour de France.

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Etixx-Quick-Step

There were jubilant scenes in the Etixx-Quick-Step team after Tony Martin surged to victory on stage four and the friendly German was quick to share the moment with his teammates.

Even Tom Boonen, who is an expert over the cobbles that Martin tamed on Tuesday, turned up to show his support and congratulate his colleague.

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Tony Martin with Michal Golas after stage four of the Tour de France (Sunada)

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Tom Boonen congratulates Tony Martin on his win on stage four of the Tour de France

Movistar

It wasn’t just on stage five that Movistar have swarmed around Nairo Quintana like flies. On the tricky stage two, where Quintana found himself caught on the wrong side of a split in the peloton, his teammate worked their hardest to get him back to the front.

Britain’s Alex Dowsett did get in the front group, but dropped back down the road to help his leader out – and said the Colombian is always so appreciative of the support he’s given.

Tour de France - Stage 2

Team Sky

It’s been a pretty common sight in recent years – a swarm of black and blue jerseys at the front of the peloton, often protecting a fellow in yellow.

On stage four over the cobbles, Chris Froome wore the maillot jaune and was ably protected by cobbles specialists Geraint Thomas and Luke Rowe all day.

And again on stage five, when the wind and rain threatened to derail plenty of riders’ hopes, Sky took to the fore again with the likes of Ian Stannard gritting his teeth and driving through the torrid conditions.

Tour de France - Stage 4

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BMC Racing

If there’s one general classification contender who’s pretty much never lost the wheel of his teammates this Tour, it’s BMC’s Tejay van Garderen.

The American has regularly been seen surrounded by plenty of red and black jerseys, no more so than over the cobbles of stage four, as seen below.

But also on stage two, when BMC got six riders into the small front group that contained Alberto Contador and Chris Froome. Though, while Sky and Tinkoff-Saxo had depleted numbers, BMC were seemingly reluctant to do the work to punch more time into Quintana and Vincenzo Nibali, who were stuck down the road.

Tour de France - Stage 4

 Watch highlights of stage five at the Tour de France