Editor’s Note: In The Crosshairs’ Grand Tour correspondent, John Kavouris, is once again at the Tour de France and capturing the sights for you, the cxhairs.com viewer. Check out John’s work at johnkavouris.com and follow along here for another installment of offseason fun.
Rest Day Recap – Week 2
If you remember from last year, In The Crosshairs spent part of the off-season covering of week 1 of the Tour de France. It was a fun time, it was a tiring time, and it was a major learning experience. Part straight race coverage, part behind the scenes, part travel-log, it was an experiment, really, that happened to work out pretty well. At the bare minimum, I was able to start from zero, acquire a credential, drive like hell for 8 days, push the shutter button a few times, and arrive at the other side unscathed and with pictures that weren’t totally atrocious, in my opinion.
While completing the assignment was easy, in retrospect, excelling at coverage was hard. Do I try to shoot to cover news of the event, or try to shoot for truly strong images? How much prose is needed to fill the reporting gaps that the images don’t cover? If the coverage isn’t going up immediately, how can I convey the race so that the actual story matters, when straight up results are available almost instantly post-stage? Having the freedom to pursue coverage how I wanted was nice, but after last year, I think some re-tooling is in order.
So for this year, I’ve mulled quite a bit about the approach I wanted to take. For In The Crosshairs, I really want to address the idea of “Why In The Crosshairs, anyway?” Like, yeah, it’s the Tour de France, and thus it’s a big deal because it’s THE Tour de France. But outside of that? De novo, why should a cyclocross fan care about the Tour de France?
CXHairs has historically covered ‘cross (duh), mountain biking, and some gravel racing/mixed surface type events like the Hilly Billy Roubaix. A natural crossover indeed.* Even last year, Stage 4 of the Tour was a mini-Roubaix, replete with several cobbled secteurs. A bit of a stretch, yes, but if you like ‘cross, it’s not unreasonable to think the Spring Classics are the gateway to road racing, and if you like the Spring Classics, Stage 4 was for you. Some teams planned for bike swaps onto CX bikes, even! Totally grounds for CXHairs to pay a visit.
This year, cobblestones do not feature. No current or former ‘crossers are racing for road teams. I haven’t seen a single cantilever or disk brake since I’ve been here. So I ask again, “Why In The Crosshairs?” Do you, reader, care about road racing, anyway? Should you?
I’m still working out the exact answer to that myself, but I’m sure I’ll have one by the end of the Tour. (Hey, foreshadowing…) I do think you should, though. At least give it a shot. Otherwise, you’d be missing out on all of this:
It’s just like ‘cross, only different. There’s less dirt, more asphalt. Instead of iconic circuits (Hoogerheide, Valkenburg, Koksijkde), there’s iconic climbs (Tourmalet, Ventoux, Grand Colombier). Instead of riding through farmer Dieter’s land, the courses wind past farmer Pierre’s. Either way, there are plenty of opportunities for fans to get rowdy. Both disciplines get to complain about how discs are ruining things. See, not so different after all!
If you’re still unconvinced, even Sven Nys showed up for the Tour!
I chatted with him for a minute at the Team Sky press conference – he said he’s here to do some nightly reporting for Belgian TV. And if you like cyclocross, you gotta like Sven. And if Sven is down with the Tour, you probably should be, too…