Snapshot: Eye to the sky at the Tour de France


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VeloNews and Peloton Contributor James Startt, the winner of the 2021 World Sports Photography Awards, reports on his 32nd Tour de France. At this year’s Tour de France he will regularly explain how he takes his favorite shots of the day and what equipment he uses.

The Tour de France is also a tour of France known as a wonderful summer road trip across the country. And this year’s tour was no exception, because we started in Brittany, led down to the Alps, over the French Midi and into the Pyrenees.

The hike continued today as we rested through Les Landes – a region known for its miles of thick pine forests – before moving to the Bordeaux wine region.

Bordeaux is world famous, but Les Landes is far less so, but its endless 19th-century pine plantations are impressive.

Also read: Get the shot – Pogačar the cat

We left Mourencx on the outskirts of Pau and entered the woods just outside Mont-de-Marsan.

Pine is not as widespread in France as it is in the USA, and by Tour de France standards it is rather unique.

I looked for a place that was open enough to capture the scene as the drivers sped by.

I stopped at an opening, went into a field, and found my place. The repetitive trees stood out and I had a clear view of the road.

This would be a different one for the slow shutter speed as I imagined the blur of the peloton against the tree line – 1/100 of a second was my preferred speed.

Soon the peloton was approaching and I was on the lookout for the yellow jersey, which would make the shot even more distinctive. I eyed Tadej Pogačar up front and started shooting.

It wasn’t until I got back to the press room in Libourne that I noticed a television helicopter peering in from the opposite side of the forest. Apparently French television had a similar picture in mind.

Matej Mohoric solo to victory on the 19th stage of the Tour de France 2021. Photo: James Launches

Later that day, I also managed to take several pictures of Pogacar’s compatriot Matej Mohorič as he drove solo to victory on the last kilometers of the race through the ever-present vineyards. But while I enjoyed some of the recordings, I prefer the one in Les Landes.

After all, tomorrow at the last time trial around Saint Emilion there will be plenty of opportunities to let the cyclists race past vineyards!

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