The 2012 Tour de France, now underway, marks the 24th for James Startt, an American-turned-Parisian who has served as European correspondent and chief Tour photographer for Bicycling magazine (in addition to releasing a book about cycling's main event).
So this year the mag is featuring on its iPad app Startt's best pictures from his Tour tenure, in addition to stories about each shot -- like this one on the above Lance Armstrong photo, taken during his win in 2005.
"I don't shoot from a motorbike that often. It has disadvantages for the way I like to shoot races, but it does allow me to find places that are special, where there's a lot of drama. These fans watching Armstrong in the 2005 Tour were pretty dramatic, but even then, as a photographer you have to get lucky, the light has to be right, and the riders, the emotion has to be right. That's what happened here."
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From 1997: "I was out on the course and there was nothing, then all of a sudden the road came up on a factory, and there was a sea of workers in blue uniforms. It was perfect - the pattern of the blue bibs, then the peloton with [Italian rider Mario] Cipollini on the front."
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Marco Pantani, from 1998: "Pantani had attacked on the Galibier -- early. It was Felice Gimondi, the last Italian Tour winner, who had said to him: "You've got to go early, if you want to beat [Jan] Ulrich. You can't take that kind of time out of him on the last climb up Deux Alpes." I remember that day so well, because I started out on a motorbike, and the rains just got worse and worse, and as we went up into Deux Alpes, it got colder and colder and my camera started working less and less. By the time we caught up with Pantani, who was on his way to winning the stage, it was so dark it was like nighttime out there, and my flash was so wet it was going off about once every 10 shots. So this is about the only one I have that worked."
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Col de la Bonette, 2008: "Here you get a feel for how amazing, how epic the Col de la Bonette [a mountain pass, 8,900 feet above sea level] is. But it shows the excesses, the dramatics of the Tour: The race actually added on the little cap, the last little bit of road, to make sure this was the highest ascent. You know, nothing spared."