The shot: the calm before the storm


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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 be explaining in a regular feature how he takes his favorite shots of the day and what equipment he uses.

Today was the first stage after the first of two rest days of the tour. But in many ways it felt like it was an extension of that. The first attack went without much resistance, and it seemed like many riders in the race were all too happy to have a relatively routine sprint stage. After all, tomorrow is the eagerly awaited double stage Mont Ventoux.

Also read: Brandon McNulty on the Cormet de Roselend

And that was fine with me. The two consecutive mountain stages in the rain soaked my Nikon D5. He spent the rest day in a closed plastic back with a kilo of uncooked rice – an ancient photo recipe for sucking moisture out of the camera. The only problem is that it’s not completely dried out yet. So I started the day with just my Z7. With rain looming for most of the day, I wasn’t in the mood to take risks.

And since there was a lack of action, I decided to drive ahead and look for a scenic shot. I was overwhelmed by the landscape when we drove into the Rhone Valley.

Eventually we rolled into a small town with a soft festive mood. The cycling fans stopped at one corner, and the local resident was only too happy to see the tour pass on his window on the second floor.

The outlier wasn’t far behind so I quickly set up my frame. This would surely be a slow shutter speed shot focused on the fans, with only the blurring of the drivers highlighting the frame.

The Z7 doesn’t fire as many shots per second as the D5, so I knew I would only have a picture or two. With my left eye open, I tried to see the movement of the oncoming cyclists and when I did I started to shoot. When I looked at my camera’s screen I could see that I had taken it twice, but this one was my definite favorite.

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