VeloNews and Peloton contributor James Startt, the winner of the 2021 World Sports Photography Awards, is covering his 32nd Tour de France. For this year’s Tour de France he will provide a regular feature explaining how he gets his favorite shots of the day and also what equipment he uses.
I started the stage — the third of four for the Tour’s grand depart in Brittany — in search of a scenic shot as the race once again looped along the region’s coastline. While I found a nice spot overlooking a historic bridge just outside of Carnac, I was not convinced it would be my best vantage point.
My only option would have to come at the finish. Arriving in Pontivy, I immediately spotted a sweeping turn about 150 meters from the line. The crowds were dense and the road was framed nicely by the architecture of the old town.
As the riders finally approached I started shooting from different distances. But, suddenly, I heard that all-too-familiar sound of bikes crashing and riders hitting the ground. And it happened right at the front of the pack. It was hard to understand what was happening or who was hitting the tarmac. I just did my best to keep shooting.
It was only after the first pack passed that I could see who was on the ground. I first saw Peter Sagan, and then the red jersey of a Lotto-Soudal rider. Considering that the crash happened at the front of the pack, I knew it could well be Caleb Ewan — the team’s star sprinter.
But, to be honest, in moments like these, there is simply too much chaos, too many horns honking, too many whistles blowing, to fully understand everything you are seeing.
I kept shooting, in part, to simply better understand myself.
I eventually learned that the fallen rider was indeed Ewan. And so did his teammates, who one-by-one all stopped to gather around him. That’s just what teammates do.
I had a lot of shots of the crash. But in the end, it was this image of Ewan with his teammates that resonated the most. The picture tells the story of the crash, but also the undeniable support and camaraderie that is so central to the sport.