Emily Maye’s latest exhibition, Vive le Tour, opens at the Rapha Cycle Club New York on 7th July. Before the photos go on display, and the opening-night wine is uncorked, we took some time to chat with Emily about the inspiration behind the show.
Judging by its title, your new exhibition is focused on the Tour de France – what is it that attracted you to covering the race?
Being at a race as big as the Tour is so different from seeing it on TV. Television cameras only get to see so much – the riders at the front, the ‘key moments’, and all that – but they don’t get to see all the small moments and little details.
These moments aren’t always what you’d expect. It’s a three-week race, so there are plenty of opportunities for riders to take a moment to reflect and take their time, take half a second to look around – that’s what I’m most interested in.
Are there any particular influences that inspired you to look for these moments?
Everyone has an endless list of influences, but when it comes to the Tour my mind turns to Louis Malle’s short, Vive le Tour. I came across it while researching a screenplay, and I think it captures something special. I’m certainly influenced by the style, and the tone is exuberant, silly, and serious, all at once.
What’s it like covering the Tour?
I’ve covered the past three Tours de France, mostly on assignment or embedded with teams, and this exhibition draws on all of those trips. The thing that gets you when you visit the Tour is that it’s like jumping on to a moving machine. Everything and everyone is in motion, and you have to catch up quickly.
Also, it’s so long! You visit a team for ten days, work hard, then go home. Once you’re back, you turn on the TV and they’re still racing. It’s madness.
When you were digging through your archives for the exhibition, what stories were you reminded of?
There was one day last year that I won’t forget. Fabian Cancellara was in yellow, and I was covering his team. Then – well, you know the story – he broke his back. I had seen his yellow bike in the morning, and the special pride his mechanic had taken getting everything ready, and how happy the team were to have the jersey. Then: disaster. The way the mood of the team changed was remarkable, and it made that morning feel like it had been years ago.
Emily Maye is a photographer based in New York. http://www.emilymaye.com/