Tour de France 2020

The Shot: From photo finish to victory celebration

BrakeThrough Media captures Marcel Kittel's elation after he realizes he's won a photo-finish sprint at the Tour de France.

The Shot: 2016 Tour de France Stage 4, Saumur – Limoges, 237.5 KM

Stage 4 of the 2016 Tour de France was the longest stage of this grand tour, culminating in a sprint finish with a 500-meter uphill grind.

The previous stage (stage 3) resulted in a victory for Mark Cavendish after a hotly contested sprint with André Greipel. Instead of the normal anticipated media scrum that forms around the stage winner, the press corps and team staff waited with bated breath until the jury announced the victor. I had my camera aimed at Griepel who was initially thought to be the winner. You might consider that it’s a 50-50 chance of catching the euphoria of the belated stage win. Of course, it depends what your priorities are. For us, it’s largely the emotion, win lose, or draw.

[related title=”Previous editions of The Shot” align=”left” related tag=”The-Shot”]

In a bizarre turn of events, stage 4 into Limoges was a Tour de France déjà vu — another closely contested sprint finish. This time it was Etixx – Quick-Step’s Marcel Kittel, and Direct Energie’s Bryan Coquard. The two riders had turned themselves inside-out by the finish line and then found spots nearby to hold court while they awaited the jury decision. I ran for Kittel who was seated in the middle of a circle with his bike on the ground while the media scrum was slowly gathering momentum around him. In what always seems like slow motion, he hung his head over his hands while his team soigneur looked after him.

By this time, the intensity of the media frenzy was escalating and the vortex around Kittel was shrinking. I waited. Marcel is fairly demonstrative so I knew that even a disappointment would read well all over his face. The key was to stay on him — be ready at the instant he received the news — with all the variables just so: framing, exposure, shutter (movement speed), etc. And I waited. And then, this. It only lasted a couple of seconds but the emotion says it all.

Key image specs:
Canon 1DX
Canon 24-70mm f2.8L II
Focal Length: 24mm
1/800 sec @ f/2.8 ISO 800
File format: RAW