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August 31, 2017

Inside the Peloton: 20 Fascinating Photographs Document the 1982 Tour de France by Harry Gruyaert

The Tour de France is the biggest free sporting event in the world, watched live at the side of the road by millions of people each year – it is as much a part of French summer holidays as a picnic in the mountains or a trip to the beach.

It’s no real surprise that many Magnum photographers have worked in or around a bicycle race like the Tour de France at some point of their careers, because as sports go, cycling provides a perfect situation for the reportage, social documentary or street photographer: it happens in real-time, in real life and in the public environment. It isn’t a traditional stadium or circuit sport per-se, as the action happens on the street outside your house or in a city centre that you live in or in the mountains that you holiday beside, because anywhere the road goes so does the racing peloton.

Harry Gruyaert’s approach to photographing the Tour was fairly pragmatic at the time. In 1982, he was there to do a job for the Elf oil company and the resulting work became a big reportage exhibited in Paris and in a book, but once Magnum revisited the pictures and he re-scanned a new batch he started to remember more about the race.

Into the valley before the big Alpine mountains. At the back wearing the tricolour jersey is the French Champion Régis Clère.


In the picture, from left to right, Jan Raas the Dutch classics star, Hinault’s loyal lieutenant Patrick Bonnet, Frédéric Brun the Peugeot hardman, Bernard Hinault and Marino Lejaretta.

The peloton sweeps into Paris and onto the Place de la Concorde past the Hotel Crillon.

Two of the Renault-Elf team struggle at the back of the group. France.

Onlookers picnic on the roadside.

Onlookers sit in the shade of a parasol by the side of the road.

Viewers watch the peloton on either side of the road, sitting atop hay bales and bringing their own garden chairs.

The motorcycle police at the Tour de France.

Bernard Hinault checks his pockets before the stage ‘Depart’ flanked by his team mates Hubert Arbes and Lucien Didier.

Dietrich Thurau. He abandoned the 1982 Tour on stage 20, succumbing to his injuries after a crash, just one stage before reaching Paris.

Through villages and towns, the tour is greeted by the local musicians and marionettes.

There were three individual time trials in 1982, Hinault won two in Martigues and Saint-Priest.

The climb through the Alps.

1982 was Bernard Hinault’s easiest Tour victory, he was simply unstoppable. He even won the final stage in Paris, usually a stage for the sprinters rather than the overall contenders.

Sheep on the roadside.

On stage 16 between Orcières-Merlette and Alpe d’Huez Protesting farmers had stopped the race just before the start, after a short delay the riders were allowed to continue.

Riders relax whilst the Tour organisers negotiate with farmers on stage 16 to remove their tractors from the road.

Belgian Ludo Peeters uses the stage 16 delay to catch up on some sleep. He won the first road stage of the Tour that year – one of three in his ten Tours de France.

A lone piper on the road to Alpe d’Huez. Two Belgian supporters in Raleigh colours await their team.

(Photos © Harry Gruyaert/Magnum Photos)


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