The final countdown to the Tour de France may be in full swing, but over at Procycling, the build-up to the main event began months ago as the magazine planned an elaborate series of photo shoots to create a strikingly unique cover for its Tour preview issue.
“Procycling is a magazine that prides itself on presenting one of the most photogenic sports out there in the best possible light,” explains editor Cam Winstanley. “With the Tour de France preview the biggest issue of the year (both in pagination and sales), the objective was to create something truly memorable. So along with a Tour route supplement and a Tour-yellow slipcase finished with gold foil, we had to make the fold-out cover a real event.”
Twelve of the race’s main players were identified and Procycling staff put in the hard miles to track them down and immortalise them on the cover of the prestigious Tour preview issue. Taking such an ambitious project from the design phase to the reality of the printed page is a complex task, however, and there were innumerable logistical factors to into account in order to fashion the distinctive fold-out cover.
“When you set out to try and shoot a dozen world-class athletes, you start to realise why most magazines don’t attempt covers like this,” Cam continues. “For a start, they’re rarely in the same place at the same time and when they are, are all either racing at the same time or want to be shot at the same time. What you see here is the result of a hundred planning emails, several thousand air miles, a dawn shoot of the Arc de Triomphe and hours of patient photo manipulation.”
From Bradley Wiggins to Ivan Basso, Andy Schleck to Thor Hushovd, Procycling photographer Jesse Wild travelled all over Europe to capture the stars of this July’s race as they continued their preparation for La Grande Boucle.
The end result is a stunning group portrait of the men who will dominate the action in July, but as Cam points out, the success of this year's shoot means that the ante has already been upped for Procycling’s 2012 Tour de France preview cover.
“Are we planning on topping it next year? Obviously...”
Click here for an exclusive gallery of the making of Procycling’s July 2011 fold-out cover.