For many, the Tour de France may seem like something that can only be understood by dedicated cyclists and sports junkies. That's no longer the case, thanks to illustrator Neil Stevens who is translating the gruelling 22 day feat - which sees 22 teams battle it out over 2,058 miles - into an illustrated tour de force, representing each stage as a printed poster.
'From an early age I've always followed the Tour so I thought I'd combine my love of illustration with my love of cycling," Stevens explains. "It's such a special and historic cycle race and it rides past some of the most beautiful scenery in France so there is many a chateaux, viaduct or mountain to include in the design."
Stevens' illustrations intend to break down each of the 21 stages into more manageable graphic posters, as he goes on to explain of stage six (above), "the ride from Dinan to Lisieux along the coast saw the structure of Mont Saint-Michel looming in the distance. This stage had a 'breakaway' attempt where riders try to escape from the main peloton and that's illustrated here with the lone rider up front and the chasing pack in the distance. It's great to include contrasts, so here we have the bright poppies and dark grey skies to add to the drama."
Now everyone, no matter how interested in the tactics and teams can follow the race and the unfolding drama.
Does Stevens have any plans for illustrating other sporting events? "I hope to portray the London 2012 Olympics, Boat Race, London Marathon and maybe a Grand Prix or two as well. All the big sporting events that produce so much colour and varied landscapes."
It's refreshing to see such a fast-paced gruelling race represented in such a labour-intensive graphic format.
Follow the link to Crayonfire.co.uk to see the Tour de France unfold in Neil Stevens' illustrations, which are available to purchase.
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