Transition stages can often provide suspenseful racing. But shooting them can be complicated at times. Sure, the rolling hills can be plenty challenging on a bike. But the lack of high mountain perspectives can be frustrating.
Today was one of the those days, as the race swooped down out of Andorra over a series of category 1, 2 and 3 climbs. Some of the climbs like the Col de Port or the Portet d’Aspet, I knew from experience, remained by and large in the trees.
Looking at the stage profile, I originally thought that I would be best served going past the climbs altogether, as I knew that the run-in to Saint-Gaudens offered some lush farmlands.
But as we climbed the Col de la Core, the second major climb of the day, I started to have other thoughts. I don’t remember the climb from past Tours de France, and while it didn’t even peak at 1,400 meters in altitude, we did edge out of the tree line in the final kilometers, riding over a lush valley that is so typical of the Pyrénées.
Cresting the summit, the clouds were thick, contrasting with the green hills. Together I thought, they embodied the fecund beauty of these mountains. This would be my stage.
Waiting for the peloton, I found a spot perched just above the road. The wind was stiff and I was hoping that the thick clouds would not be blown away. But for more than a half hour they did not budge. Clearly they had settled in.
And soon enough I saw the first signs of the race, first the breakaway, and finally the pack. Focusing on the first riders I could see the Belgian national jersey of Wout Van Aert, as well as the white and yellow jerseys. I snapped away, using my Nikon Z7 with a 14-24mm lens as I wanted this shot to be as wide as possible to capture the entire scene.
Looking over the images from the day, I had a solid shot of Patrick Konrad on his way to a solo victory as well as fun shot in front of a family clad in polka-dot tee-shirts underneath a lonely statue of the Virgin Mary. Such statues are also typical of the Pyrénées.
But at the end of the day, it was the peloton on the Col de la Core which was the most resolved image in my eyes.