“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 flat land 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 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 any more 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.
Thomas Danthony is a French artist based in London and Barcelona. Often narrative, Thomas’s work is characterised by a clever use of light, bold compositions and a dose of mystery.
His client list includes Google, The New York Times, Transport for London, Liberty, Penguin, Hennessy and The English National Opera, among many others.
What’s in issue 19.4?
Rouleur’s special guide to the Tour de France, 21 stages, 21 stories. Readers and pro cyclists ask reigning champion Geraint Thomas the questions that matter.
We explore Belgium’s barren Grand Tour run, fabulous collectors’ paraphernalia; there are interviews with Thomas De Gendt and Dylan Groenewegen; Romain Bardet on his homecoming stage; we’re up high on the Col de l’Iseran.
We also look back at accordion queen Yvette Horner, while Philippa York reflects on her 1984 King of the Mountains title, and forward to the Tour of tomorrow and green initiatives being put in place. Plus Desire, Ned Boulting and much more…
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