Culture

Best images of 2020: Tour de la Provence

James Startt recalls how Ventoux isn't always the star when the peloton races in Provence.

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After returning to France after the Vuelta San Juan in January, I soon traveled to another one of my favorite races, Le Tour de la Provence in early February. I instantly fell in love with this five-year-old race that, as its name infers, races through French Provence.

One of the most picturesque parts of the country, if not the world, it is hard to find a better backdrop for a bicycle race. And while its endless kilometers of wine vineyards and lavender fields are not yet in bloom, the late-winter light offers the peloton the first glimpses of springtime.

In addition, this year’s race attacked the mythic Mont Ventoux on stage three.

It was the earliest time of year any bike race has climbed the mountain known as the “Giant of Provence.” And while I knew that I would have to focus on the competition once the race hit the first slopes of the climb, just outside of the town of Bedoin, I enjoyed searching out some more picturesque shots as they made their way towards the climb.

Needless to say, there were numerous options during the day, but this shot of the Groupama-FDJ team rolling past the field of vineyards stands out as one of my favorites. Riding together in single file, the repetition of the vineyards was complemented perfectly by that of the uniform colors of the matching jerseys, uniting the image visually and creating, in my humble opinion, a classic image of early-season bike racing in France.