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Tour de France

Getting the shot: Eye in the sky at the Tour de France

The Tour de France is also a tour of France, renowned as a wonderful summertime road trip around the country.

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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.


The Tour de France is also a tour of France, renowned as a wonderful summertime road trip around the country. And this year’s Tour was no exception as we started in Brittany, looped down to the Alpes, across the French Midi, and into the Pyrénées.

The trek continued today as we raced through Les Landes — a region known for its miles of dense Pine forests — before moving into the Bordeaux wine region.

While Bordeaux is world-famous, Les Landes is far less so, but its endless pine plantations dating back to the 19th century are impressive.

Also read: Getting the shot — Pogačar the cat

Racing out of Mourencx on the outskirts of Pau, we entered the forests just outside of Mont-de-Marsan.

Pine is not as common in France as in the U.S., and by Tour de France standards it is rather unique.

I started looking for a place that was open enough to capture the scene as the riders raced past.

Stopping at one opening, I walked into a field and found my spot. The repetition of trees stood out and I had a clear shot of the road.

This would be another one for the slow shutter speed as I imagined the blur of the peloton against the tree line – 1/100th of a second was my speed of choice.

Soon enough the peloton neared, and I kept an eye out for the yellow jersey, something that would make the shot even more distinctive. Eying Tadej Pogačar near the front, I started shooting.

It was only after I got back to the press room, in Libourne, that I noticed a television helicopter peering in from the opposite side of the forest. Apparently, French TV had a similar image in mind.

Matej Mohoric soloing to the win on stage 19 of the 2021 Tour de France.
Matej Mohoric soloing to the win on stage 19 of the 2021 Tour de France. Photo: James Startt

Later in the day I also managed to get several shots of Pogacar’s countryman Matej Mohorič as he soloed towards victory through the wine vineyards that were ubiquitous in the final kilometers of the race. But while I liked several of the shots, I preferred this one in Les Landes.

After all, there will be plenty of opportunities to get cyclists racing past wine vineyards tomorrow at the final time trial around Saint Emilion!