What's Cool In Road Cycling

TOUR’15 St.14: PHOTO Report!

Roadside Stage 14:  The steep slopes of the climb to Mende made for great racing and even better pictures today.  Photog Beardy McBeard joined the French fan fray just minutes before the race , and captured today’s best look at the Tour roadside.

 

 

– Photos & Words by Marcus Enno –

While researching today’s race route we realized it went past the chateau we stayed in a month earlier while on assignment for Rapha travel. Remembering that in was a spectacular road running through the Gorges du Tarn we knew it was our must shoot location for the day.

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There was an abundance of tunnels cut into the rock walls of the gorges and I wanted to use one of these in my images. After stopping and checking three different tunnel locations I found one that had a great vantage point, all I had to do was scale up to it.

Scrambling up, the outlook over the road was fantastic and I could even see a little village on the opposite side of the river. By this stage there were official cars passing by and when they came out of the tunnel and saw me perched up high they got a bit of a surprise.

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My spot attracted a lot of attention with the motorbike photographers as well, they stopped to check it out before deciding it was too hard and shooting from the road was easier. They all sped off as soon as the last rider had passed and I carefully climbed down trying not to knock any rocks down on the road below.

After the gorges it was straight to the finish by race route, then as the riders did a loop out around the town we would shortcut across to beat them there. On paper it was going to be tight but that just seems to be the case everyday now as we see how far we can push it.

Driving behind the race we met up with our mate from yesterday – the direction sign remover. We let him go past and do his thing jumping out of the car grabbing the sign then getting back in speeding up to catch the precession.

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There was one climb to get over before we could take our detour to the finish and it was unfortunately a really nice location. When researching the route we decided it wasn’t possible to shoot the gorges and the climb so I will just have to remember it for another day.

The finish today was up a brute of a hill – the Côte de la Croix Neuve – with an average gradient over 10%. Being a Saturday everyone had come out to watch.

Driving up was a challenge as we had left it so late there was no visible road just people in front of us. Honking the horn and slowly making our way through, there were people yelling, tooting air horns and spraying water on the car.

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At the 1km mark I jumped out & into the thick of it while Mrs. McBeard drove to the parking at the top. There must have been less than 10 minutes and the riders were approaching, not that you could see them through the wall of people. But a couple of motorbikes cut a path, hands and flags waving wildly as the riders came lumbering past of the outrageous gradient.

Snapping away there was a group of crossing dressing guys with plastic wigs and they were really getting in the riders’ faces. I had just moved to the side when there was an altercation as one of the riders stopped and unclipped, sizing up a crossing dresser in a pink wig. The gendarme was quick to intervene as I rushed to get a shot but it was all over.

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The riders had all about come through when one of the other photographer’s car pulled up and offered me a lift to the top just in time to make the podium.

When we had been booking our accommodation there was nothing at all available in Mende so the closest place on race route was almost 100km away. What we hadn’t taken in to account was that it was the slowest windiest road you could imagine. Trying to do my work in the car as normal I had to keep looking out the window to avoid getting car sick.

On the plus side the road was beautiful and part of the race route so we could scope it out of tomorrow.

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