Tour de France 2020

Getting the shot: Alexey Lutsenko and Neilson Powless on the Col de Lusette

James Startt tells the story behind his photograph of Neilson Powless and Alexey Lutsenko from Thursday's stage 6 of the 2020 Tour de France.

It’s always challenging photographing a new climb at the Tour de France. On Thursday, the peloton climbed the Col de la Lusette for the first time ever. While I had already spoken to members of the race organization to get an idea of what awaited us, we nevertheless opted to cut the course and get to the climb early in an effort have sufficient time to scout it out.

As we hit the climb, the road instantly narrowed — and steepened. As expected, the climb started in the trees, and I was eager to see what the road looked like once we exited the tree line. Spotting crowds gathering on a series of switchbacks, we made our way to the four-kilometer mark, where we parked and started looking for a spot. The crowds were thick, and it felt like the normal Tour. Still, I wanted to somehow get up above them and get a sense of the plunging perspective that the climb offered.

I was also attracted to the deep shadows of the spectators on the edge of the road, as they provided a certain visual rhythm.

And fortunately for me, when the two race leaders — Kazakh Alexey Lutsenko and American Neilson Powless — approached, they rode in the center of the road, just on the edge of the shadows.

Thanks guys, and happy birthday Neilson. Great ride!