Getting the Shot: The Peloton and The Giant of Provence Tour de France stage 11

Along with the Cormet de Roselend, Mont Ventoux is without a doubt one of my all-time favorite climbs. But while I have often photographed bike races here, I have learned that it can be difficult to capture the unique nature of this climb.

There are so many distinctive aspects to the Ventoux. There is its iconic tower on the summit, and of course the barren rock face that is found along the final 6 kilometers of the climb. But to capture the truly unique nature of a bike race on this climb takes something more.

Related: Getting the Shot: Charging Towards the Finish With MVDP

And while there are plenty of outstanding action shots on today’s stage that climbed this mountain known as The Giant of Provence, I wanted to focus on the unique nature of the climb itself.

Julian Alaphilippe on Mont Ventoux. Image: James Startt.

Arriving early, I encountered throngs of fans already settling in. But just after the 2-kilometer mark, I saw an opening. And after parking my car near the summit, I walked back down. I was impressed by the sheer rock face, that is so unique to the Ventoux and it is what I love so much about it. Unlike so many climbs, there is no ski resort on the top of the climb. And this barren landscape provides a unique stage, one where a there is no distraction. There is something minimal about the Ventoux that pitches the cyclist against the mountain.

And it was here on this short stretch of road where I felt I could best capture the unique nature of the climb. As the first riders came up, I actually positioned myself just underneath the roadside and shot upwards towards them.

Image: James Startt

But for the main pack I ran back up a hundred meters or so to get above them. As Team Ineos paced the pack up the climb I shot away. Once again I opted for my Nikon Z7 because the quality of the 45-megapixel frame is simply so rich in detail.

And I was not disappointed.

The shot. Image: James Startt

Later, for the second lap up the climb, I did move near to the summit to capture more of the action. But none of the shots from that series matched this one for capturing, what is for me, the essence of this iconoclast climb.

Pick the Tour stage winner daily for a chance to win a Specialized Tarmac SL7!