Words/Images: Chris Auld

In the first instalment of Behind the Lens for this year’s Tour de France. Chris Auld, one of our key photographers on the ground in France, tells us some tales of life behind the camera at the race and all the drama that goes with it.

It’s been a challenging opening week, working around the COVID19 protocols that now surround the Tour de France. Freelancers like the guys and girls who follow the race are a resourceful bunch and we just have to adapt the way we work. If you’re not in a team bubble or working for a large agency the following areas are now strictly off limits and very heavily controlled; team buses, sign on area and behind the finish line which makes getting shots somewhat difficult. And, I’ve had my fill of shooting riders wearing face masks to last a life time.

As for the racing, which to be honest is what it’s all about, from what I’ve seen and heard on highlight shows and podcasts, which we listen too on the monotonous drives between stages it all sounds very exciting. I always say if you want to watch a bike race, the best place is always on TV. With the opening week seeing several hill top finishes and numerous Cols climbed the question of fans by the roadside has to be answered. ASO (Tour de France organisers) have tried to make it incredibly difficult for spectators to get to the summit, with all private vehicles being banned. So the only way to get there is on foot or cycle, free face masks are given out by the passing publicity caravan for those who have braved the climb. The usual cavalcade of motor homes that follow the race are now no longer seen on the mountains and are confined to the valleys.

International spectators are a rarity, the majority of roadside fans seem to be locals, giving the race a different feel, a bit more like the Giro which doesn’t have the international following. So as I write this every rider and team member should have had their first week COVID test, let’s see what tomorrow brings, will the circus keep traveling or will it be the end.