"My first idea was to do something more mountain-oriented, I’m very inspired by mountains and spend a lot of time up there climbing. But I really wanted to illustrate how the bunch moves as I think this represents the essence of the tour, so in the end, I opted for a flatland scene.
I had the option to pick one of the main landmarks of the 2019 tour, so I selected Col du Tourmalet. I guess this scene is just north of the Pyrenees, but to be honest, it doesn’t need to be a specific location. My goal was more to capture the essence of the whole event to give it a more global feel.
My goal is to boil down my images to the bare minimum so it’s always a compromise between simplicity and the story I want to tell about the tour. In this illustration, I think the balance is right. I managed to keep it simple while including all the elements I wanted – the clouds, mountains and everything else.
During the sketch phase, I wanted to catch the essence of the peloton which behaves like a single body, like a swarm of bees or a shoal of fish, all individuals acting as one. So I drew it as one big shape and accentuated it with its reflection in the water.
Then I tried to add speed – it’s tricky because my illustrations are static most of the time. Even while this has some movement, it’s a snapshot of a precise moment. There’s speed but it’s still at the same time.
I drew in black and white at the beginning and spent a lot of time finding the right colours for it. I thought that would be a piece of cake, but it was actually quite challenging as I wanted to channel the feeling of summer, but also add gravity to the epic nature of the Tour.
I remember having the Tour on in the background each July as a kid. Napping in front of it too! I don’t tend to watch it anymore as I don’t have a TV, but I always keep an eye out for the results.
For more than 30 years we have not had a French winner, but I think we are kind of used to this – take Roland Garros as another example. I would like to think that the French have become excellent at supporting the best athletes, no matter where they come from."
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