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Procycling Magazine Tour de France 2011 cover shoot

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Procycling July 2011.

Procycling July 2011.
(Image credit: Procycling)
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Bradley Wiggins poses for Procycling.

Bradley Wiggins poses for Procycling.
(Image credit: Procycling)
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Alberto Contador is focused on the Tour de France for now.

Alberto Contador is focused on the Tour de France for now.
(Image credit: Procycling)
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Tyler Farrar

Tyler Farrar
(Image credit: Procycling)
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Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Cervelo) travels to France in determined mood.

Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Cervelo) travels to France in determined mood.
(Image credit: Procycling)
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Tyler Farrar with Procycling's Sam Dansie.

Tyler Farrar with Procycling's Sam Dansie.
(Image credit: Procycling)
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Tyler Farrar is chasing a first ever Tour stage win.

Tyler Farrar is chasing a first ever Tour stage win.
(Image credit: Procycling)
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World champion Thor Hushovd will be targeting a stage win at the Tour.

World champion Thor Hushovd will be targeting a stage win at the Tour.
(Image credit: Procycling)
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Procycling's Sam Dansie stands in as Mark Cavendish for a shot with Thor Hushovd.

Procycling's Sam Dansie stands in as Mark Cavendish for a shot with Thor Hushovd.
(Image credit: Procycling)
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Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) keeps wrapped up during the Procycling shoot.

Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) keeps wrapped up during the Procycling shoot.
(Image credit: Procycling)
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Geraint Thomas (Sky) has had a fine 2011 to date.

Geraint Thomas (Sky) has had a fine 2011 to date.
(Image credit: Procycling)
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Bradley Wiggins jokes at the Procycling photo shoot.

Bradley Wiggins jokes at the Procycling photo shoot.
(Image credit: Procycling)
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Bradley Wiggins (Sky) as featured on the cover of theJuly issue of Procycling.

Bradley Wiggins (Sky) as featured on the cover of theJuly issue of Procycling.
(Image credit: Procycling)
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Cadel Evans takes time out from the Procycling shoot at his home.

Cadel Evans takes time out from the Procycling shoot at his home.
(Image credit: Procycling)
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Cadel Evans (BMC) has built his season around the Tour.

Cadel Evans (BMC) has built his season around the Tour.
(Image credit: Procycling)
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Alberto Contador lines up as favourite in the Vendee.

Alberto Contador lines up as favourite in the Vendee.
(Image credit: Procycling)
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Alberto Contador's CAS hearing is after the Tour de France.

Alberto Contador's CAS hearing is after the Tour de France.
(Image credit: Procycling)
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Mark Cavendish is an old hand at Procycling cover shoots.

Mark Cavendish is an old hand at Procycling cover shoots.
(Image credit: Procycling)
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Mark Cavendish is the man to beat in the sprints.

Mark Cavendish is the man to beat in the sprints.
(Image credit: Procycling)
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Need for speed. Mark Cavendish and his steed.

Need for speed. Mark Cavendish and his steed.
(Image credit: Procycling)
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Mark Cavendish expects to deliver wins at the Tour de France.

Mark Cavendish expects to deliver wins at the Tour de France.
(Image credit: Procycling)
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Andy Schleck is expected to be Alberto Contador's biggest threat.

Andy Schleck is expected to be Alberto Contador's biggest threat.
(Image credit: Procycling)
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Andy Schleck has kept a low-profile for much of 2011.

Andy Schleck has kept a low-profile for much of 2011.
(Image credit: Procycling)
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Frank Schleck has a wealth of Tour de France experience.

Frank Schleck has a wealth of Tour de France experience.
(Image credit: Procycling)
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Frank Schleck will offer key support to his brother Andy.

Frank Schleck will offer key support to his brother Andy.
(Image credit: Procycling)
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Cadel Evans flies the flag for BMC.

Cadel Evans flies the flag for BMC.
(Image credit: Procycling)

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.