Image Focus

Tomasz Markowski | Crash

This picture tells a tragic story. It is the end of the 1st stage of the Tour of Poland and Dutch cyclist, Dylan Groenewegen, crashes just meters before the finish line after colliding with fellow countryman Fabio Jakobsen. You can see the emotion on everyone’s faces. You can see the impact, force and dynamics of cycling, but it does not reveal the cyclist’s injuries.

group of cyclists crashing into barriers during a race

© Tomasz Markowski | Sony α9 + FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS | 1/3200s @ f/6.3, ISO 1250

As usual I had lined up near the finish line in a pack of photographers. We were all eagerly awaiting the end of the race and I had my Sony Alpha 9 and FE 100-400 mm G Master lens in hand ready to capture the usual victory celebrations from the winning rider.

When I’m covering cycling events, I’m riding to different points of the race on a motorbike, so it’s important for me to use a lightweight camera and not too much equipment. This is why the Sony Alpha 9 and FE 100-400mm G Master lens are great for me; they offer excellent image quality, but also the size and weight are ideal for covering fast moving cycling events, such as the Tour of Poland.

As the riders approached the finish line, Groenewegen deviated from his line, veering towards the right barrier and leaving little room for Jakobsen, which sent him crashing over the barricade. The two had been competing for first place and were travelling at around 80 kilometers per hour.

With no crowds or cheering due to Covid-19 restrictions, we could hear the roar of the bikes tearing against the metal barriers; the sound of the bikes crashing together. Then there were a few terrifying moments of silence. The next few hours were decisive for the life of Fabio Jakobsen. Jakobsen sustained severe injuries, underwent a five-hour operation, and spent a week in intensive care. Groenewegen broke his collarbone.

The great news is that both Fabio and Dylan are back to the peloton and competing again. For me, the photo was awarded 3rd place in the World Press Photo competition this year. It shows how when shooting sports, photographers must be watching and ready to capture whatever may happen in a fraction of a second. Everything can change incredibly quickly, so it’s important that we have the cameras and lenses to enable us to photograph those split-second moments.

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Tomasz Markowski

Tomasz Markowski | Poland

"Make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been seen ― Robert Bresson"

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