What started life as a Chris Froome social media fan club eventually morphed into one of cycling’s most popular photo journals. The four time Tour de France winner invited Jordan Benjamin-Sutton out to the final stage of the 2016 Tour de France as a guest and like all good souvenir hunters Benjamin-Sutton took along his trusty camera as well. “I started taking pictures of Chris and the rest of Team Sky and when I showed them the photos they all commented how good they were. So as soon as I got back home I started Peloton Perspective.” And luckily enough for Jordan he now had an important backer to help him gain some early momentum. “Chris shared a few of my photos, and that started getting people on board, and it went from there really”.
Fast forward several years and Benjamin-Sutton is now a regular at races around Europe. Most recently he attended the Giro d’Italia and, as fate would have it, chose to be on the finish line for what was to go down in history as one of the most iconic solo victories in the race’s history. Stage 19 from Venaria Reale to Bardonecchia.
“I headed out with a tour company and we were based in a small village just outside Bardonecchia called Sauze. Whilst heading out Yates was still 3 minutes in the lead, but with the time trial still to come most people suspected it wasn’t all over. However Dumoulin was the one that was most fancied to do something on that stage”.
One might assume that once you’ve got your press accreditation sorted, it’s plain sailing from there on in. However Jordan highlights a few of the nuances of heading out to photograph a key stage of a Grand Tour. “The tour company I was with didn’t want to take people all the way up to the finish because they thought it was too technical a road up and back. So they dropped everyone at the bottom of the climb to watch from there. Obviously I wasn’t coming all the way to Italy to get a few shots of riders whizzing through the valley 20km from the finish.”
That small obstacle wasn’t going to prevent Benjamin-Sutton from getting the shots he wanted and so he made his way to one of the nearby ski stations to get a cable car all the way to the top of the mountain. “Fortunately, despite it being a public lift, there was a separate line for those with accreditation, so it didn’t take too long to head up there.”
Once at the top, a well positioned big screen allowed Benjamin-Sutton to keep tabs on the action as it unfolded and Froome attacked on the Col de Finestre. Watching alongside much of the media it was clear they were less than enamoured with the Team Sky rider’s performance. “A lot have always been a bit sceptical, so they weren’t happy to see him going solo with 80km to go. But the general atmosphere from the supporters was crazy.”
“Despite things being well organised and press and photographers sticking to their pre-agreed sections of the road whilst waiting for the riders, as soon as the first rider crosses the road all hell breaks loose and all rules are out the window. It’s every man for himself and straight away there’s a 20-deep media circus around the rider”.
And of trying to get ‘the’ shot Benjamin-Sutton explains. “It was my first time with full accreditation, which makes a big difference. You spend a good amount of time getting into place and securing your spot, but in the final 30 seconds, that can all change, and you can get pushed out of the way. However, I got a great position head on and put myself at the back of the photographers so that I could run up through them at the finish, rather than be first there but get crowded around. That’s always my aim at every race.”
All photos copyright Peloton Perspective