Tour de Pez St.4: Into the Deep End
The Tour lands in France proper, and the PEZ Roadside Crew lands at Le Tour. Kicking off our opening week coverage is new-to-the-crew photog Dave Lipnowski, who’s covered a lot of big sporting events in his career but never le Tour. This’ll be fun to watch…
Words & Photography by: David Lipnowski
Le Tour arrives in Nice.
Hey cycling fans, my name is David Lipnowski and I’m excited to be contributing to PezCycling News again. I am based out of Winnipeg, Canada where I work as a full time professional photographer. I covered the 2012 Tour Down Under, as well as the 2012 World Track Cycling Championships in Australia last year for PEZ, and I can’t put into words how excited I am to be invited back to cover the 100th anniversary of Le Tour De France.
I have been in France for a few days now, and I have loved every minute. Though this is the first time I have been here, I’ve been preparing for this trip for a while now, ‘trying’ to learn French, eating lots of baguettes, and living with a French woman.
This was the first stage of Le Tour De France I have ever covered. It involved A LOT of walking. I walked at least 15KM today. After parking the car, I walked along the Promenade des Anglais, which is right on the Mediterranean Sea. The beach in actuality looks pretty terrible to sunbathe on, as it is very, very rocky. This didn’t stop hundreds of people though, with many women going topless (something relatively new to see on beaches for this Canadian). The city is unbelievably beautiful along the coast, with hills in the background, but the beach looks uncomfortable to spend any time on.
I arrived in Nice just before 10AM, but there were a few issues with the media accreditation, and by the time I had my pass around my neck, the caravan had already started its journey around 1:30PM. I had no idea how large the caravan was. I’ve seen it on TV, but the caravan of promotional vehicles stretched out over a kilometre or two, with hundreds of people involved in the daily procession. There were people dressed in every kind of costume, handing out everything from hats, to cookies, to full loaves of bread.
My first hand experience with the caravan. If you point a big lens at the girls on the floats, they will pose for you.
The French LOVE their bread. People carry baguettes around like they are carrying umbrellas on a rainy day. I’m working on a long term personal project called “a portrait a day: 2013” (www.davidlipnowski.com/365) where every single day of 2013 I go out and make one portrait of one person. I try to have a chat with my impromptu portrait subject, and I post a narrative along with every portrait. Today I met Jacques Trin, who is a mascot for Banette. His job is to walk with a cart of bread and hand out bread (some with Nutella on it) in the middle of the caravan. He does this every single day over every stage of Le Tour. Most people ask him if it is hot in the baguette costume, but he told me that it is not as bad as it looks. Jacques lives in Paris, and when he is not dressed as a baguette, he is an actor, specializing in theatre.
After snaking my way through the caravan, I headed to the start line to photograph the first few teams taking off down the starting ramp. At first I had incredible access, I was inches away from the riders as they got into their ‘zone’ for the 25KM journey around the streets of Nice. I can imagine that a lot of the 71 cyclists that started the day a mere 1 second behind the yellow jersey, dreamt of pulling on the Maillot Jaune themselves last night, and there wasn’t a lot of joking around prior to the start. I shot a few photos of mechanics prepping the stealthy time trial machines, as well as riders making their way to the start area.
After a bunch of the photographers were asked to leave the start ramp, I continued my journey on foot down the route back towards the Promenade to try to get some scenic shots of the teams on the course, with the city and sea as the background. Along the route, I tried to photograph and talk to fans whenever possible. Just a few of the fans I met were a couple of young ladies studying in Cambridge, UK, a lovely woman enjoying a glass of wine at a street side restaurant, as well as Alfred Carlsson, a young boy from Sweden who is on holidays with his family just to see the 100th edition of Le Tour. Alfred’s favourite rider in the tour is Peter Sagan.
I had an absolutely fantastic, albeit exhausting day today, and my only disappointment was not being able to get to a high vantage point to get some scenic shots. It was not for a lack of trying. The roads were completely blocked off with no crossing allowed, meaning I was never able to get further than 500M from the finish line. I tried asking in several hotel lobbies for balcony access, but no one was able to help me. The highest vantage point I was able to secure was atop an electrical box a few meters away from the course.
Keep it dialed PEZ for all the Roadside action from the Tour de France.