In many ways, I love the early cycling season the most.
It is a time of renewal and rediscovery, and it is also a time where some of my favorite races occur, smaller races overflowing with heart and soul, that are so central to the lasting success of the sport.
The Drôme Classic is one of those races. Held around the edges of the Rhone River Valley in late February, the race is the final warm-up before Paris-Nice for many riders. And its taxing terrain always attracts an international field.
This year, Italy’s Vincenzo Nibali and Australian Simon Clarke both made the journey, and they could often be seen on the attack. It was no surprise to see them at the front when French national champion Warren Barguil attacked on the final climb.
It is a tricky climb for a photographer. Short and steep, we only have seconds to work before racing ahead to get some distance on the leaders before the descent to the finish.
As the skies opened up in this year’s edition, I kept shooting until the last second, looking for the perfect shot of the three riders racing all out against the elements. This is a picture that says a lot about early season racing — but also about the courage of cyclists in general. And it is definitely one of my favorite images of the year.