The photo: Postcard from the Pyrenees

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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.


Transitional phases can often make for exciting races. But shooting them can be tricky at times. Sure, the rolling hills can be quite a challenge on a bike. But the lack of high mountain views can be frustrating for a photographer.

Today was one of those days: When the race from Andorra crashed over a series of category one, two and three climbs like the Col de Port and the Portet d’Aspet, I knew from experience that by and large it stayed in the trees .

Also read: The shot – Sepp Kuss on the way to victory in the Tour de France

When I looked at the stage profile, I originally thought that I would be best served if I cross the climbs all the way, as I knew that the entrance to Saint-Gaudens offers quite a bit of lush farmland.

As we climbed the Col de la Core, the second big climb of the day, my thoughts turned to different things. I can’t remember the ascent of Tours de France, and although it didn’t even reach 1,400 meters in altitude, the last few kilometers we got out of the tree line and drove over a lush valley that is so typical of the Pyrenees.

At the top the clouds were thick and contrasted with the green hills. Together I thought they embodied the fertile beauty of these mountains. That would be my stage.

While waiting for the peloton, I found a seat and crouched right across the street. The wind was stiff and I hoped the thick clouds wouldn’t be blown away. But they did not move for more than half an hour. They had obviously settled in.

And soon I saw the first signs of the race – first the runaways and finally the pack. When I focused on the first riders I could see Wout van Aert’s Belgian national jersey, as well as the white and yellow jerseys. I snapped off and used my Nikon Z7 with its 14-24mm lens as I wanted this shot to be as wide as possible to capture the entire scene.

A family watches the race on the 16th stage of this Tour de France 2021. Photo: James Launches

Looking at the pictures of the day, I had a solid shot of Patrick Konrad on his way to a solo victory, as well as a funny shot in front of a family in polka dot t-shirts under a lone statue of the Virgin Mary. Such statues are also typical of the Pyrenees.

But at the end of the day it was the peloton on the Col de la Core that was the most sonorous picture in my eyes.



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