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Vuelta

Week one with Aqua Blue Sport & Karen M. Edwards

Story by Soigneur August 29th, 2017

into the fire

Renowned photographer Karen M. Edwards is embedded with Irish Aqua Blue team as they make their Grand Tour debut at the Vuelta a España.

Soigneur caught up with her during the first rest day in Alicante to find out how her race is going.


Whats the atmosphere like on the race?

It’s definitely more relaxed than the Tour de France and there’s a very positive atmosphere around the race. The heat is pretty intense. There’s always lots to take in but being with the team I feel more relaxed. They’re opening up and I can really interact with everyone involved in the team, from the bus driver to the soigneurs and of course the riders. It’s been great to mix with them all and get an insight into what it takes to bring the team to each stage. For instance, I’m fascinated with the mechanics and their work on the bikes, they work so hard.

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THIS IS AN HISTORIC MOMENT FOR IRISH CYCLING. HOW ARE THE TEAM DOING, AND HOW IS THEIR MORALE?

They’re really positive. They knew going in to the Vuelta that it was going to be tough. Of the riders only one or two have done Grand Tours, the others are so new to it. Adam Blythe has a lot of experience and he’s here to win stages. When he just missed out on the second stage he was gutted. Michel Kreder has done extremely well. Conor Dunne was in the break yesterday. The DS always brings them up, tells them, ‘we have to do this, its really important we do this.’ So they’re all active in the race, trying to get in the breaks and get the team some visual exposure. They’re a brilliant group of lads. Everyone is very aware that this is the first Irish pro cycling team and they want to make Ireland proud.

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Visually, what’s caught your eye?

The landscape of the Vuelta is incredible. The colours are always changing, and some of the mountain ranges have been totally barren, like something out of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. There’s always something interesting to shoot, even here down in the streets of Alicante. I’ve been on the motorbike for two stages which has been amazing, because you’re capturing what’s going on inside the break and inside the peloton. I try to mix it up, going back and forth between the peloton and the break. It really is the best seat in the house.

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What does a typical day look like on the race?

I’m up at 6.30. After breakfast I make sure everything is powered up. Then I meet up with the team at their breakfast, and depending on the transfer I travel with them on the bus to the start, shoot around at the sign-on, though sometimes that can be really hectic. Then if I’m on a motorbike we’ll head off onto the course. If I’m with one of the soigneurs I’ll try to go with the ones giving multiple feeds to catch as much as the action as possible. Sometimes you have to choose to shoot in-between the start and finish rather than finish itself. I just try to mix it up. After the stage I’ll edit on the bus, which is great. Uploading pictures depends on finding a good wifi signal, which isn’t always easy. Dinner is usually around 9.00 then it’s off to bed. It’s a pretty full-on day. I’m exhausted!


Most memorable moments of the race so far?

Watching the boys walking up the ramp in Nimes. We all felt so proud to be there. What Rick Delaney has done to get the team to its first Grand Tour is incredible, and I just think there was this feeling of, ‘We’ve done it.’

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Footnote: Photos by Karen M. Edwards > Insta: @karenm.edwards. Special thanks to Aqua Blue Sport.
Vuelta 2017