Exposure: Gila photographers share favorite moments

Exposure: Gila photographers share favorite moments

Working as a cycling photographer isn’t easy. During the race, they endure long hours on the back of a motorbike, straining to get the perfect shot. After most have returned to their hotels, they remain in the media room, editing shots under deadline. Sleep is minimal yet the passion remains. Without the hard work of Gila’s cycling photographers, Mitch Clinton, Jonathan Devich, and Casey Gibson, cycling fans around the world would be devoid of the moments that make the Tour of the Gila so unique.

To commemorate the 30th edition of Gila and their exceptional talents, we’ve asked Clinton, Devich and Gibson to share their favorite images and memories from years of covering the race.

Mitchell Clinton

Taylor Phinney celebrates after winning the downtown criterium in 2010

Official race photographer Mitchell Clinton has captured the sport of cycling through images for almost 40 years. He’s published in VeloNews, Cycling Weekly, and Bicycling. A local resident, Clinton has been a mainstay at the Tour of the Gila almost every year since its inception.

“I love the exuberance on Phinney’s face. He had been growing as a cyclist at a blistering pace. Just starting his second year as a pro, one month prior to Gila, he won the individual pursuit at the UCI Track World Championships for the second consecutive year. Less than one month after the Gila, he won the Paris-Roubaix Espoirs in France. He was in his zone and unstoppable.”

I love how in this photo, the streets are lined with people. They’re even on the awnings of local businesses to see the excitement. The spectators from my hometown were not disappointed by the action.”

“On a local and personal level, I had just moved to the area [Mimbres], after coming to this race almost every year since 1987. I was introduced to the race while working for Mavic, running their U.S. Technical Assistance program in the U.S. The Director Sportif of a team Mavic sponsored had been to the inaugural TOG and had called me saying, ‘You have to be there! This is European racing in the U.S.!’ It was, and is, the most challenging race in the U.S. I especially like that the race is available to amateur categories. Categories that usually get stage races that are three days long in a parking lot! This is real racing, and great prep for Europe.”

Jonathan Devich

Riders traverse a bridge in the Gila National Forest on stage 5 of the 2011 race.

Jonathan Devich started his career as a cycling photographer in 1998. After going full-time in 2001, his work has been published in countless magazines and online media outlets. The Phoenix-based photographer also shoots for several professional racing teams and bike sponsors across the country.

“The Tour of the Gila has been one of my favorite races of the season since I first attended back in 2002. I love the beauty of the area just as well as the community. I’ve met some of the nicest people at Gila and still see them year after year when the race passes through. With spending so much time on the road covering events, it’s great to go somewhere that feels like a hometown race. I’m also a big fan of the desert so to be able to show of both things with my photos is always a lot of fun for me.”

Casey Gibson

Pro men negotiate the final corner of the downtown criterium during the 2012 Tour of the Gila.

Casey Gibson  has been at the forefront of cycling photography since 1991. Gibson, is a longtime photographer for VeloNews, has covered 14 editions of the Tour de France, four Olympic Games, more than 20 World Championships, and every national championship since 1993.

“I think I took this photo in 2012. Mitch Clinton talked the city into providing a scissor lift, which took us up to very scary heights. We tried to take pictures as it swayed back and forth. I like this shot because of its unusual perspective. It shows all of the final corner of the crit course, and gives a great view of the peloton streaming around it.”