The opening stages of Paris-Nice can often appear nondescript on the surface, as the race crosses the central plains of France, making its way to more diverse terrain further south. But year in and year out, these stages often offer some real surprises. High winds can splinter the field, while many of the towns and villages simply appear lost in time.
After two days of high winds and rain, the peloton was only too eager to cruise through much of stage three in a more relaxed mode. Riding ahead on my motorcycle, I found very little of visual interest until I descended into this village. Several photographers had positioned themselves on a small bridge, and I considered the shot myself, as it promised to offer a clear view of the peloton descending into town. But as I waited, I saw this family gathering across the street against the aging facade of the traditional French village architecture. And I knew this would be my shot.
I had to remain discreet, as I did not want the family to be distracted by me, or suddenly be looking at me when the pack arrived. I kept chatting with my photographer friends while keeping an eye on this group of fans. And only as the peloton approached did I slip into position directly across the street from them. I had just enough time to fire off a couple of test shots to verify the shutter speed before the pack arrived. I knew in advance that I wanted the peloton to be blurred, so as to focus the viewer’s attention on the fans rather than the riders. And as the pack arrived I started shooting, hoping to get lucky and capture the yellow jersey in the mix.
Needless to say, I was only too happy to discover that I did just that. And I was even happier to see this image on the cover of VeloNews a couple of weeks later!