The 2017 Tour de France, Illustrated
For the past two years, artist Sam Smith has live-illustrated the Tour de France. He plans to include the images in two coffee-table books currently being funded on Kickstarter. This week, we got a sneak peek of highlights from the 2017 graphic story of the world’s most famous bike race.
Stage 1, The Crash: Valverde Slips in Opening Time Trial
Spaniard Alejandro Valverde lights up the big races with impressive all-around ability and a wealth of experience. On the slippery road of Düsseldorf in this opening stage, Valverde loses control after overcooking a corner, which had caused a lot of trouble for a lot of riders. He skids for more than 30 feet and smashes into the barriers. Unable to remount his bike, he abandons the race. Losing Valverde, one of Nairo Quintana’s most valuable domestiques, is a massive blow to the Colombian’s chances of winning.
Stage 1, The Win: Thomas Wins Opening Time Trial
None of the favorites manage to topple Geraint Thomas from the top spot this day. Chris Froome’s domestique maintains the fastest time on this 14-kilometer course, grabbing yellow and the spotlight.
Stage 2, The Sprint: Kittel Wins First Stage
Germany’s Marcel Kittel wins in a star-studded sprint finish that includes Peter Sagan, André Greipel, Arnaud Démare, and Mark Cavendish. Kittel goes on to dominate the sprints for the rest of the Tour.
Stage 3, The Save: Sagan Unclips Pedal, Still Wins
Peter Sagan leads out the sprint in the final 300 meters, looking surprisingly comfortable as others thrash away on their machines. Then, still in the lead, with Dan Martin and Greg Van Avermaet hot on his tail, Sagan accidentally unclips his pedal, jeopardizing his chances of victory, yet he remains calm and gets his foot back into the pedal in time to win the stage.
Stage 4, The Push: Sagan the Villain, Cav Out
During the sprint, Mark Cavendish tries to squeeze past Peter Sagan in the fight for a wheel, but Sagan holds his line. Cavendish runs out of room and is forced into the barrier, crashing violently in the process. Other riders pile up over him and go flying, flipping over their mangled machines. Sagan is DQed from the race for throwing an elbow.
Stage 4, The French Victory: Démare Wins
Arnaud Démare, who led out the sprint when Cavendish hit the barrier, wins the stage. The French go wild at this first victory in this year’s Tour. French cycling is experiencing a resurgence, with Romain Bardet taking second on last year’s podium, Nacer Bouhanni winning bigger sprints, Thibaut Pinot doing well in the mountains, and now Démare in the speed game.
Stage 5, The Favorites: Aru Wins, Froome Gets Yellow
Italian Fabio Aru was seen as a top ten contender before the race started. He shone in previous grand tours, and now, during his first Tour de France, he shines again on the first mountain stage. Aru catches the other contenders by surprise and launches a ferocious attack with less than two kilometers to go on a tough finish. The big names give chase, with Richie Porte and Chris Froome leading the pursuit, but they are unable to catch Aru. Froome, meanwhile, takes the overall GC lead—and the yellow jersey.
Stage 6, The Heat: Hot Weather, Kittel Wins Number 2
It’s easy to forget what these cyclists put themselves through during a Tour. Spectators tend to forget that there is so much going on aside from sheer athletic exertion: battling illness, avoiding crashes, not letting press engagements tire you out. Today the unseen demon to be fought off is the crushing heat. Some riders get their hands on ice packs to slip under their jerseys to fight temperatures that rise to 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
Marcel Kittel takes his second Tour de France stage with a convincing win over his fellow sprinters. With 500 meters to go, he is about eight riders from the front, with one of his teammates leading out the sprint. Kittel is calm and waits until the last minute to attack from relatively far back.
Stage 7, The Photo Finish: Is It a Draw? Kittel Celebrates
The day concludes in a sprint finish. Marcel Kittel and Edvald Boasson Hagen cross the line at exactly the same time. After much deliberation over the finish line photos, Kittel is declared the winner for his third Tour de France stage. According to officials, he crossed the line 0.0003 seconds before second place.
Stage 8, The Underdog Triumphs: Calmejane Cramps
This is the first time a lot of viewers will have heard of Lilian Calmejane. He breaks away with around 17 kilometers to go as Robert Gesink gives chase. The more experienced rider, Gesink looks like he will catch the young Frenchman, but as time goes on, Calmejane looks stronger and stronger until, with 6/7 km to go and looking like he’s going to win the stage, he cramps. He stops pedaling to stretch his hamstrings as he stands on the pedals to climb a hill. The French viewers simultaneously think, “What are you doing?!” Calmejane puts it into a smaller gear and somehow manages to keep going. He goes on to win the hardest stage so far in the Tour de France.