Getting the Shot: Pogacar in the Fog Tour de France Stage 17

Ever since I learned that the Tour de France would return to the Col de Portet this year I knew where I wanted to be.

We came here back in 2018 for the first time and this climb instantly became one of my favorite climbs in the Pyrénées. One of the most rustic climbs I know, the long, narrow and sinuous road just sort of runs out once it reaches the summit. And the edge of this road laces its way over a stunning valley providing a dramatic stage. Several of my best shots in recent Tours came on this day, and one landscape in particular I have exhibited on several occasions.

But I also understood that this year would be quite different than three years ago as a heavy fog set in and was clearly going to stay most of the day.

Little matter I thought, fog too provides a distinctive backdrop.

After taking a cable car up to the summit, I then walked down more than 2 kilometers until I came across what I estimated was the location of at least one of my shots in the past.

I like this spot in particular because it is a stretch of road that attracts no fans and allows me to simply focus on the cyclists and the nature surrounding them.

As the race approached I did my best to estimate just where the cyclists would pass me as they negotiated a couple of subtle bends in the road.

When the riders came around the corner I fired my first shots with my 200mm lens from a distance, then grabbed my trusty Nikon Z7 with its 14mm lens and laid on my back as they passed as the wide angle captures the sense of space here better than a more standard lens.

The first shot with a long lens on stage 17. Image: James Startt.

A television moto was rolling along on my side just next to them and I could only pray that it wouldn’t block my shot. After all, it was my only real chance today as I was not on a moto.

I fired off three images before the moto passed, and it was the final shot that I felt was strongest, perhaps because the yellow jersey is in the center, or perhaps I simply prefer the composition.

James Startt’s shot of the day.

I am not sure that it is as strong as my series here a couple of years back, but it is definitely the shot of the day. It will be a keeper when the dust has settled from this year’s Tour. 

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