The Shot: Tirreno’s pivotal sprint

The Shot: Tirreno’s pivotal sprint

By: Jim Fryer and Iri Greco | BrakeThrough Media

Editor’s note: In “The Shot,” BrakeThrough Media photographers Iri Greco and Jim Fryer will pick their favorite photo from select races throughout this season and provide the background story on how the image was captured.

2016 Tirreno-Adriatico, stage 6
Castelraimondo – Cepagatti, 210km

Peter Sagan and Greg Van Avermaet battle it out to the line after an intense double circuit through the town of Cepagatti.

When a race culminates in a series of circuits that pass through the finish line, photographers (not on motorbikes) are tasked with arriving at the line in advance of the first pass of the peloton. Since the course will become a “closed circuit,” we are limited in the spots we can shoot from; usually the main photographer group will seek out unique angles from which to capture the action so we don’t all end up with the same action for several laps through the finish line. The natural parcours in Cepagatti actually provided several creative angles — there was a raised stone plaza just past the finish truss as well as a gradual descent around a fast, wide corner. With both Jim and I being at the finish circuit, we discussed finding some additional vantage points in the short time between laps — roughly 12-15 minutes.

Both of us being partial to the “reverse finish shot,” we often take stock of any finish line that offers that possibility. Unfortunately it is quite rare that you can get a good angle from a decent elevation without too much obstruction (trees, billboards, VIP trailers, the TV compound, and their satellite dishes). Plus, you have to have time. That might be the most challenging part: to have enough time to find the perfect spot and to manage to get there, get in place, and get practice shots. The biggest concern is that you might spend 20 minutes wrestling with and cajoling through the crowds only to find out the position was a bust. In this particular case, we both spotted two young Italians on a high rooftop that looked directly down onto the final 25 meters.

After the first pass of the circuit, I rushed down the course through a sea of fans and stood below the guys flailing my arms until they noticed me. Since they were so high up, I couldn’t even use my broken Italian but managed instead, with a goofy series of well-practiced hand gestures, to signal that I wanted to get up there. They nodded and came down to the atrium, proceeded to bring me up three flights of marble staircases through a completely unfinished and pitch-black attic and out onto the rooftop. It was well worth the vantage point since it was one of the cleanest reverse shots I can recall. I was able to shoot the second lap as the action unfolded and get the grand finale to the finish line. And what a battle it was.

Camera body: Canon EOS-1D X
Lens: 70-200 f/2.8L IS II
Exposure: 1/640 sec. f/5.0 ISO 320