Tuesday March 10 was one of those days when the cat wouldn’t go outside. Had it been foolish enough to do so, it would probably have blown away or more likely, drowned. On England’s south coast huge waves battered the shoreline while in Western France the powerful storm ran a large freighter aground.
As commuters struggled with their umbrellas as they crossed London Bridge and winds reached 150Kph in France, Reuters Bucharest photographer Bogdan Cristel was climbing on the back of a 1000cc Honda Varadero to cover the first stage of the Paris-Nice cycling classic.
Bogdan has never covered a pro cycle race before and because he will be part of our team covering the month-long 2008 Tour de France cycle classic,
we had decided that this was a suitable event to get some training in with our professional motorcyclist Jacques Clawey. The idea was good – it just turned out to be the wrong day to do it.
In fact the wind was blowing so hard and the rain so heavy that the race organizers were obliged to shorten the 200kms stage to some 60kms, ferrying the cyclists by bus for much of it.
Bogdan and Jaqcues struggled on to the new departure point through blinding rain and hail and witnessed several accidents as other accompanying motorcyles fell foul of the wind and slippery roads.
Despite their heavy protective rain suits and cameras shut in saddle bags, by the time the race finally got underway, they were both completely drenched. The saddle bags had taken in several inches of water from the flooded roads and the Canon Mark IIN cameras were mis-firing, as were Bogdans’ strobes. As fast as he could wipe his lens with a piece of Chamoix leather the rain would bead it up again.
Despite the hardships, Bogdan managed to get a couple of usable race action pix in the few minutes that the rain eased off just before the arrival. As we had another photographer Jean-Paul Pelissier pre-positioned on the arrival line, with cameras sheltered under a very serious rain cape, we made the most of an otherwise horrendous day of sport.
Race over and installed in their hotel in Nevers, central France, Bogdan and Jacques spent several hours drying out their clothes, equipment and papers with the aid of a hair dryer.
To all the photographers who spend Monday, March 10 outdoors, including Pascal Rossignol, Toby Melville, Eddie Keogh, Luke MacGregor, Phil Noble, Stephane Mahe, Paul Armiger, Stephen Hird, Jean-Paul Pelissier and of course not forgetting Bogdan and our motorcyclist Jacques Clawey, I would like to extend a very big thanks indeed.