And so we finally make it to the Tour de France! And considering the countless complications imposed by the global pandemic, just being at the start in Nice was a huge accomplishment. But it was a strange start, to say the least, as the city was virtually empty of fans. And in many ways, it was not until we hit the Pyrénées mountains where I started feeling what I describe as Tour fever.
And I certainly felt it on here on stage eight that finished raced up the Col de Peyresourde, the final climb of the day. No cars and no campers were allowed on the climb, but that did not stop fans from walking or cycling up themselves, and I quite liked the mood really. It was a sort of kinder, gentler mountain stage in the Tour, one that was less focused on camping out and drinking beer and more simply on cycling.
There were numerous vantage points in the final kilometers to the summit as the road was laced with switchbacks offering prime viewing for the fans. And it was here that I opted to work. But while the views offered some tremendous scenic shots of the peloton, my best shot of the day was virtually an afterthought.
Long after the race leaders passed, I spotted the polka dot jersey making its way towards the summit. French rider Benoit Cosnefroy had slipped into the distinctive jersey awarded to the best climber earlier in the week. But while he managed to get into the early breakaways and pick up a lot of points on the early climbs, he was often dropped on the final climb — a classic tactic when it comes to winning such a prize.
But Cosnefroy was enjoying the moment as he made his way up the final kilometers. And as I followed him with my camera as he passed by, he suddenly threw up his arms in unison with the crowd. It was one of my last shots of the day, and by far my best, as it captures the sort of communion between the cyclists and fans that set this sport apart from so many others.