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The Tour

© Emil Ryge

A few seconds. That's how long it takes for the Peloton at the Tour de France to pass the spectators lining the roads along the route. What's not apparent on TV is the spectacle that unfolds on the mountains and along the roads well before the riders and tv crews get there.

Road cycling sets itself apart form many other professional sports by it's accessibility. It doesn't take place in well-guarded arenas or stadiums, but on small country roads, where anybody is able to get close to the riders.

Thousands upon thousands of fans spend days or weeks traveling with the tour, camping along the way. Often right on the top of mountain passes. It's like a stretched out festival of cycling aficionados, often involving entire families from babies to grandparents.

Brave civilians will spend the mornings before the race trying their luck on some of the famous ascents, while others depends on generous amounts of alcohol to pass the countless hours before the action starts.

Then the helicopters starts to hover above. Excitements builds and all of the sudden, the riders appears behind a bend in the road. The roar from the fans intensify and the riders race by. And the almost instantly - it's over. People will take to their cars and campers, get in line and head down the mountain. Only to head to the next one and do it all again.

In 2016 I traveled along with this colourful array of people - from Normadiy to Spain - to experience the craziness first hand while making wet plate tintype images along the way.

click to view the complete set of images in the archive

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