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Getting the shot: A study in yellow and green at the Tour de France

At the end of the day, the yellow jersey trumps all.

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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.

With the final time trial of this year’s Tour de France held in Saint-Emilion, one thing was certain — wine vineyards were the stage for today’s photo.

Driving out of the start in Libourne vineyards were seemingly everywhere. Some residents here even had grapevines in the backyard. And as we left town the expanse of vineyards was simply endless. But so were the crowds.

Just after leaving the world-renowned village of Pomerol, we entered some of the most legendary vineyards in the world. I learned that Château Petrus and Château Cheval Blanc were virtual neighbors. Unfortunately, both were closed — although such news was undoubtedly a big relief for my pocketbook!

Parking in front of Château Petrus, I understood that I had found my spot as the narrow road cutting through adjacent vineyards provided the perfect frame.

As one rider after the next sped by, I shot away. Sometimes I shot a larger frame, one where you could see Pomerol in the distance.

But as the favorites arrived I closed in, often framing them tighter against the backdrop of green.

As the yellow jersey approached I admit to being nervous. After all, when French rider Guillaume Martin passed just a few minutes earlier, my camera somehow failed to focus! But while it was easy to blame my camera rather than my eyes, if the same situation happened with the yellow jersey, it would be nothing short of a disaster.

As the television helicopter approached overhead I could chart Tadej Pogačar approach. And I readied, as I had for much of the day. Speeding by, I panned him, firing several shots. Looking into my camera screen I was relieved, as I could tell that most of the images were clean.

There was one with the church spire in the background that I liked but in the end, it was this close-up shot that I found to be the most resolved. I managed to capture him here in a slight opening of the vines. And the vines behind him have a hint of yellow that allowed Pogacar’s jersey to virtually melt into them.

There were shots of other riders that I also really loved, and my images of Kasper Asgreen and Wout van Aert were both satisfying. But at the end of the day, the yellow jersey trumps all.

Wout van Aert on the stage 20 time trial of the 2021 Tour de France.
Wout van Aert on the stage 20 time trial of the 2021 Tour de France. Photo: James Startt
Kasper Asgreen on the stage 20 time trial of the 2021 Tour de France.
Kasper Asgreen on the stage 20 time trial of the 2021 Tour de France.

Call it a study of yellow and green.