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December 21, 2012
As 2012 comes to an close I’ve asked contributing photographer Veeral Patel to share his favourite images from the races he’s covered both in here Australia and in Europe. It was hard to choose only a few, but I think you’ll agree that this is a fine collection.
Looking at my race credentials hanging on the side of my bookshelf is a constant reminder of the adventures I had encountered during each of the eleven races I had photographed this year. Every race has a story to tell from losing my passport in Liege, to the unexpected desire to rub embrocation cream all over myself to stay warm during the Spring & Ardennes Classics and the countless number of times getting lost in the Italian and French countryside.
Paris Roubaix was a race where things went wrong from the start but it’s an experience I will cherish for a long time. It was a race I had to experience because as photographer when things go downhill you need to take control and produce publishable images regardless of the circumstances you are thrusted upon. Entering the velodrome in Roubaix with hundreds of screaming fans celebrating the victory of Tom Boonen will be forever etched in my mind, a victory celebration like I have never seen before. The Ardennes Classics was my introductory lesson to racing on rolling terrain. I vividly remember sitting on the back of the motorbike during the last kilometer of the Liege-Bastogne-Liege and thinking to myself I am going to fall off as the gradient was too steep.
With the Giro starting in Denmark, this was the furthest north I have travelled to, though not far enough to see the aurora borealis. As the race ventured back into Italy (Verona the city of love), lay an unexpected surprise after the team time trial. A broken window in my rental car and to realise a bag representing my dreams had been stolen was a bitter blow. However, it took the events of Verona to understand the strength of my work and how far I have progressed in my journey. The nefarious actions of some were out weighed by the support of dozens who wanted to see me succeed. The support I had received is a reassuring sign that in moments of tragedy, a part of the community will go out of their way to help an individual in need and to see the individual succeed in their pursuit of a dream.
Last year, witnessing Cadel Evans standing on Champs Elysees writing a new chapter in sporting history was a moment I cannot forget. This year I was extremely fortunate to witness it twice; Ryder Hesjedal the first Canadian to win the Giro and Bradley Wiggins the first British to win the coveted yellow jersey.
Photography has given me the opportunity to visit countries I have never been to previously as well as an insatiable desire to explore other parts of the world with a camera.