I’ve been to Andorra many times. And while I am not charmed by the beauty of the town itself, there are some spectacular climbs. And I knew today’s stage had potential.
While the roads from the village of Céret to Andorra were beautiful, I knew that any action would happen on the final climb, the Col de Beixalis, as it boasted a 10-percent grade.
With more than 30 riders jumping into the early break, it was soon evident that the break would stay away. But who would win? At first I thought that Julian Alaphilippe had the best chance. After all the world champion lives and trains here on these same roads.
But as the race approached the final climb, it was another local, American Sepp Kuss, who exploited home-town advantage.
Getting to the final climb early, it was clear that it would be crucial, as its steep, sinuous roads would splinter the field. But finding a good perspective was not easy. And nor was finding a parking spot.
Finally with about 3 kilometers remaining I saw an opening in a field where several cars had parked. And I joined them.
Looking down from above there was a spectacular series of turns. I walked down and looked at several vantage points.
I could sense the crowds building as well as the intensity. But finally I preferred a spot from above that allowed me to look down on one of the hairpin turns.
And as Sepp approached I focused tight. But even then I knew that I would need to crop still, as I really wanted to focus in on Kuss himself.
As he passed I fired three or four shots. I anticipated that he would take the turn wider, but there was still ample room to focus on him.
Others followed, and one shot in particular of Alejandro Valverde came out wonderfully.
But today was Sepp’s day. The first American in a decade to win the Tour de France. Clearly it was going to be my shot of the day!