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2016 Giro d’Italia, stage 20, 134km from Guillestre to Sant’Anna di Vinadio
Stage 20 was the last mountain stage of the 2016 Giro d’Italia and also the penultimate stage of the race. We had been through the Apennines in central Italy, the Dolomites in northeastern Italy, and finally two days in the Alps as we crossed over the border into France and back. As we were doing a special reportage on Adam Hansen, a grand tour ironman, riding 14 consecutive GTs, we had been keeping our eyes open for these classic “Hansen” moments of playfulness and clowning around with the fans during the Giro . We had missed a few moments here and there already — Hansen taking a beer hand-up during the stage 15 uphill time trial to Alpe di Suisi, and other antics for which he is well known — making the daily grind of six-plus hours on the bike more lighthearted for everyone around him. Somehow in the past several years we had captured more of these moments than in this particular Giro. Go figure.
However, things changed in the last 1,500 meters of this particular climb. I had taken photos of the stage winner, Taaramae, and race leaders Nibali, Chaves, Valverde in the corner at 1,400 meters to go. It was a perfect scene of roadside lined with fans, the mountains in the background and an iconic carved wooden cross in the corner. After the front of the race came through, I decided to move around the last two kilometers for some varied shots. There were three hairpins with short straights between them in that general part of the climb, as well as a couple of passable overhead shots.
At some point, just by chance in my timing, I looked down at the road below where the course ran parallel before it hit the hairpin below me, and spotted a Lotto – Soudal rider with a fan running alongside in a pink hula skirt swinging from side to side. The rider had a pink wig on his helmet and I instantly knew it must be Hansen! It couldn’t be anyone else. I wanted to capture him riding up through the corridor of fans, so I stayed where I was, where there was the greatest concentration of spectators without barriers keeping them back from the riders.
It was impossible for me to tell if Adam had absconded with the wig from the fan or if it had been put on him. Either way, it was the moment we had been waiting for. And this was classic Adam Hansen — seizing the moment to rejoice in the purity of the race, the scenery, the energy on the mountain, and provide an extra thrill for the fans themselves with his antics. It is his hallmark, and it made our day.
Key image specs:
Canon 70-200mm f2.8L IS II USM
Focal Length: 110mm
1/400 sec @ f/3.2 ISO 200
File format: RAW