This weekend I was privileged enough to be sent to work at the tour by my firm, Getty Images. I'm a photo editor based in London but this summer presented me with the opportunity to travel to both South Africa for the world cup (64 games, exhausting but amazing) and also to the Tour de France for the final stage. Guess which one I was most excited about?!
I was incredibly privileged to be out there editing for Bryn Lennon, a snapper who is superb when it comes to cycling. Bryn really knows his stuff when it comes to stories, rider politics and capturing a moment that conveys the main protagonists. Along with Bryn I was also there to edit for Spencer Platt. I wrote a previous blog post on Spencer here. His award winning work in war zones needs no introduction, and being a big rider himself, he took some amazing photos that really complemented Bryn's style, by offering things from a different perspective.
Arriving in Paris on Saturday, I milled around from my base in Saint Augustin, hiring a velib on the recommendation of Alex, and cycled up the Champs Elysee. Lord knows how those guys sustain the speed and control they do, what with the cobbled surface and super tight corner at the top!
On Sunday I was taken to go collect my accreditation from the press centre, seeing Frank Schleck as I was walking in! Dude was in good spirits. The moto driver for Getty was Koen Hardens, and he had a long old chat with Saxo mechanic Christophe Desimpelaere, whom i wanted a snap with cos he looks a gnarly dude indeed. I also bumped in Dave Brailsford and got a snap and said hello.
At the accreditation desk, the girl was giving some guy sh*t about him not being on the list or whatever... which was incredibly amusing..... as she was shunning none other than ex-world champion Paolo Bettini! He laughed with myself and Koen at the girl blatantly not having a clue who he was. The story had a happy ending and I can confirm Paolo got his passes.
Then it was time to head to the Champs, I basically sat in the top area in the middle of the course, right by the Skoda on the Champs. The peloton whizzed by abouit 12 inches from my face! Here I was passed CF cards from Bryn down on the finish the finish line via Koen and some handy driving and Spencer was stationed up with myself. Queue lots of tech issues concerning France's appalling 3g network (1kb per second really ain't going to cut it when iv got 100 images to send to clients on the wire Mr Sarkozy!)
I had around 3500 images to edit..... Crouching over my laptop screen with a coat over my head to avoid glare, I furiously selected the best of the bunch and got them fired out. When editing pictures its my job to select and sort out (photoshop, resize, send etc) the images that convey the main stories (actually the undercurrents too!) of the event but also give a feeling of the atmosphere. To be working under such intense pressure from the field solo is great when it goes well, id say the only downside was I was in such an incredible position yet I couldn't soak it up or appreciate it as any true cycling fan would... I was there to do a job, and not 'soak it up' as it were :-)
What was amazing was being chanted at by a massive group of American fans in the crowd, i think I went bright red! I gave them a wave and the crowd cheered. haha famous for a minute. I also loved being driven down the champs behind the peltoon with an open laptop filing images in one hand (that pesky connection!) and holding on for dear life with the other hand. Epic!
After the race ended and the winners dutifully presented themselves on the podium, I headed to a backstreet bar to fire in more images... I worked for around 2 hours there as Bryn and Spencer joined me when they had completed shooting the riders procession etc.
In the evening we hooked up with our company CFO who was out there for some riding and touring in France, enjoyed a few drinks before hooking up with Tim de Wale and a couple of drunk Swiss Radio girls. We then headed to the Oakley party, finally arriving at 4am after getting epically lost, however when I saw Thor Hushovd stumbling out I knew we had found the right place!
Hopefully next year I can wangle getting out for the full three weeks as I wont be obliged to be at a major football tournament :-) Below is a low-res selection of some of my favorite images, captured by some incredibly talented guys. Massive thanks to Bryn & Spencer for being the most ego-less and awesome efficient guys to work with. And a huge thanks to Getty for saying yes to me asking to head out! The whole Getty image gallery can be found HERE and of course purchased for press usage.