If you've been watching the Tour de France you know that it's been one of the more brutal tours in recent years, with intense weather conditions and terrible crashes that have led to several top contenders abandoning the tour already. It's also the first year that riders are allowed to put cameras on their bikes — so viewers can access the firsthand perspective for the very first time.
There are nine different teams using onboard cameras in the tour this year, but they're not using GoPro: Rather, most of them are using the CM-1000 camera made by the component giant Shimano, presumably based on weight and size concerns (the Garmin-Sharp team, of course, is using Garmin cameras). Like your average onboard camera, they either hang from the handlebars or the saddle, and record surprisingly steady footage.
But unlike regular sport cameras, these babies are light: Only 85 grams, compared to a super-light GoPro HERO3, which weighs almost 140 grams with its housing. Still, according to The New York Times, some riders won't carry their cameras in the mountain stages — like this week's — because even a few grams can make all the difference when you're climbing. "From the helicopter, it looks hectic, but it's nothing compared with what we actually go through and what we see from the bike camera," Giant-Shimano's Koen de Kort told the NYT.
Here's a quick video shot from below a saddle on a Cannondale rider in Stage 1, showing the madness of the first day and Peter Sagan winning the white jersey:
Here's a short compilation from Stage 3, which wound its way through London and features a little glimpse of the crazy fan action we heard so much about:
And an absolutely harrowing video from Stage 5, the brutal stage that include portions of pave, or cobblestones, made even more dangerous by the constant rain:
Of course, it would be amazing to watch this footage live — but that's further down the road. For now, we can access the highlights online after they happen, which is also fun; watching the sheer insanity of each stage from the helicopter or a motorcycle camera only tells you so much. Later, you can log in and find out what was really going on.
One unfortunate thing? That the edited footage uploaded to YouTube has music dubbed over it. It'd be even more interesting to hear the shouts, orders, and conversations between the riders in these intense moments. Maybe the sponsors are worried about about the colourful language?
Lead image: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images