2014 Highlights from One of Pro Cycling’s Best Photographers
A veteran of 25 Tours de France, James Startt is the senior American journalist in the press room of the world’s biggest bike race. From January to November every year, Startt travels the world following “La Petite Reine,” as cycling is known affectionately in France. Here is just a small selection of some of his favorite images from 2014.
Above: The Town of Sisteron in the foothills of the southern Alps is a common point of passage for the Tour de France. Napoleon passed through on his return from Elba in 1815, and nearly 200 years later, the Tour riders crossed the Durance River underneath the Baume Rock as they rolled through Sisteron.
Bragging rights for the best early-season race vary year to year, but the Tour of San Luis has made good arguments in recent years. I discovered the race for the first time this year and immediately understood why riders like Mark Cavendish, Tom Boonen, and recent Tour de France winner Vicenzo Nibali frequent this sun-drenched South American race. Far from the pressures of the World Tour circuit, the ambiance is simply unmatched.
Known as “The Race to the Sun,” the French Paris-Nice race is one of bicycle racing’s time-honored institutions. As tradition has it, the riders always roll past the majestic Hotel Negresco on the Promenade des Anglais in downtown Nice on the final day.
Colombian cyclist Carlos Betancur prepares for the final stage of the Paris-Nice race. The explosive rider dominated the week-long race in March, but did little for the rest of the season. Don’t expect a long and glorious career from this 25-year-old pro, but rather one filled with flashes of brilliance.
Without a doubt my favorite single-day race is the epic cobblestoned classic Paris-Roubaix. Every year I wait for the riders at this corner near the end of the first section of cobblestones just outside of Troisvilles. While more than 25 cobbled sections still await, those who hope to win are already well-placed here. And this year proved no exception as eventual winner Niki Terpstra led four-time winner Tom Boonen through this 2.2-kilometer obstacle course.
The Arenberg Forest is to Paris-Roubaix what Heartbreak Hill is to the Boston Marathon. The iconic cobblestone road defines the bicycle race also known as “The Hell of the North.” And while the race is rarely won here, it is often lost.
With a strong ninth-place finish in Paris-Roubaix, 2012 Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins found a new source of motivation for the final years of his career.
Poppy fields welcome the riders during the Dauphine Criterium, a key warm-up race to the Tour de France.
American Andrew Talansky proved to be the surprise winner of the prestigious Dauphine Criterium. The leader of the Garmin-Sharp team upstaged stars like Alberto Contador and Christopher Froome with a late-race attack on the final stage.
The Tour de France always maintains its reputation as cycling’s most popular event as fans of all ages wait for hours just to get a glimpse of the sport’s top stars.