It was raining when we awoke. I was really disappointed because I did not want to spend hours on rainy streets in Atlanta to watch the final stage of the Tour de Georgia. However, the upside is that it might keep the crowds away. Good for me as a spectator/amateur photographer, bad for the organizers of the tour and for the riders. As it turned out, the last few drops fell right before the start and the riders shed their rain jackets and left the start.
At the start we saw Famous people such as Johann Bruyneel and Michael Ball. It just amazes me that you can really get up close with these athletes and the team owners/directors. Michael Ball is the kind of person that doesn’t mind posing and allowing someone to have your picture taken with him.
I found out pretty quickly where the best spots to take pictures of the riders were – inside corners and further out on the circuit away from the crowds. Most people tend to stick close to the finish line area and we really made an effort to get to a few different spots on the course for photos. This was the first location, just up the street from the start and on a straight stretch of road:
Then we cut across the city to catch a few turns on a corner further up the course. This is a picture from the first turn:
And this is from the second lap while on that same intersection:
Right after the main field went by during this lap I ran down an adjacent street to see them come through on the same lap but a different stretch. I didn’t make it in time to see the break but I did catch the peloton:
This was a long stretch so we walked opposite of the path of the riders for some other angles and locations. During out venture they came through again before I could arrive at the corner I was seeking.
One would think that they were chasing down the break at this point because they look pretty strung out but they weren’t – the gap remained at about 45 seconds to a minute:
Then I found the corner and it proved to be the best spot for photos. I was about a foot, perhaps less, from the corner and I could literally hear pedals behind me and then hear them click gears as the zoomed out of the corner. If I had moved just a tiny bit to the left a rider might have collided with me. It’s the closest I could get and the thrill of being able to take these kinds of pictures was amazing to me. So much so that I didn’t want to leave. I stayed there for two laps and moved on.
And remember my buddy, Jamie Smith? Here he is passing out candy and Team Slipstream hats to the kids on the street that were watching the race:
From there it was time to make our way back to the finish line area. So I walked the route in the direction the riders were riding so I could capture more photos along the way such as these. (This must have been the lap following the feed station.)
This was the 9th lap and the break was still hanging out there
The peloton was still about 45 seconds behind:
It was inevitable that the peloton would catch the break. I figured with the slight uphill finish the attacks wouldn’t happen much before the 200 meter mark so I set up right under the 150m banner for one last round of photos. My prediction of JJ Haedo looked pretty good but alas it was not meant to be. He’d have to settle for a second place finish behind Greg Henderson.
This year’s TdG definitely belonged to High Road with three stage wins, multiple days in the yellow jersey, and the overall win (yellow jersey) in addition to Henderson leaving with the sprinter’s jersey. Not a bad showing at all!