Tour de Lead Graffiti / 2012

Year 2 was the "wonder if..." we can do any more posters that are cool. Can we do anything different? Will you be able to tell one year from the next?

For us we figured the following grades:

  • A = 9
  • B = 10
  • C = 4

Pretty solid.

Prologue : Liège > Liège / Fabulous Fabian

A prologue is where each rider, starting times separated by 60 seconds ride the 6.4km race. It is about as difficult a stage to translate as every element, short of the order they finish, is the same. Every so often someone would put up a new best time. When we got to the studio the first piece of music we called up on our iPod was Michael Jackson’s “Beat it.”

We focused on the winner, Fabian Cancellara, with a callout to 2nd & 3rd. We did our hand-rolling technique on the ‘go’ in the prologue to get us off to a good start. 

Stage 1 : Liège > Seraing / 198 km / Dreams made. Dreams lost.

It was a nailbiter until the end with probably 20 different riders having a distinct shot at winning the stage. About a kilometer from the finish, Cancellara took off, and only two others could keep up. In the end, Peter Sagan edged in front for his first stage win in his first Tour de France.

Stage 2 / Visé > Tournai / 207.5 km / The sum of the points

The Tour changed the rules for the Intermediate Sprint in the middle of the stages this year, and that seriously upped the excitement level. In the past, they only gave a few points (usually 3, 2, & 1) for the first three riders and typically a small breakaway group would gather them. The sprinters who were vying for the Green Jersey would hold out for the big points at the finish line. This time 20 points went to the first in the Intermediate Sprint and decreasing points for the next 14 riders (17, 15, 13, 11, 10 ... 1). So when the main peloton loaded with sprinters crossed the sprint about 3 minutes after the breakaway, there was a very serious race for the rest of the points. Goss came in fourth to get 15 points with Cavendish 6th and 10 points. These points add up, and careers are made on being able to put that Green Jersey on at the end of the Tour.

For this poster, we set the names of the first six at both the intermediate and final sprints. Cavendish came in 6th out on the course and went on to win the stage. That gives him 21 stage wins in the Tour. The sprinter with the most stage wins ever has 22 so that record is likely to fall soon.

Stage 3 : Orchies > Boulogne-sur-Mer / 197 km / Yep. That’s a good rule.

Arguably, Mark Cavendish is the fastest man alive on a bicycle, and he boldly demonstrated it today. Five members of a breakaway had already crossed the Intermediate Sprint 4 minutes earlier, so the race for the sprinters with the peloton was for 6th place and worth 10 points. Cavendish, Greipel, and Sagan, all blazingly fast, were lined up for the sprint. Cavendish was blocked and had to come from the 6th position, weaving between riders and moving to the outside to make up 3 full bike lengths to win by half a tire. All in about 12 seconds. We chose 3 moments to indicate the positions of those key riders. It was an exciting blur. To top off the day, Sagan zipped by to collect his 2nd stage win at the end.

Stage 4 : Abbeville > Rouen / 214.5 km  / “I have to pee”

Just in case you were wondering, the Tour de France has a rule against the riders urinating in public. That said, it doesn’t stop the camera people from catching a few of them doing it, and that doesn’t much stop them from actually doing it when they need a “natural break.” Yesterday’s poster was centered on the page. We decided to design around the outside a bit and dig into a few cases of our larger metal type. Focusing on the “sides of the road” seemed like an interesting option and made a bit of a splash amongst our followers.

Stage 5 : Rouen > Saint-Quentin / 196.5 km / Almost.

The peloton ended up catching the breakaway only 100 yards from the finish. As we watched, we could hardly catch our breath. The breakaway will replay that finish in their minds a couple of thousand times, wondering where they could have stolen another 100 yards somewhere in those 196 kilometers.

Stage 6 : Épernay > Metz / 207.5 km / They’ve crashed again?

Jill had been talking about an idea of a chaotic use of the arrows we had made to represent riders for this edition of the Tour de Lead Graffiti. We thought the playful inclusion of “crash” letters added a fun “Where’s Elmo?” element.

The sprints at the end of this first week of flat stages have been exciting to watch and today’s was right up there with them. Unfortunately, our favorite speedster, Mark Cavendish, was held up by the crash and too far back to mix it up. Once again Peter Sagan had the legs to edge out the others who saw their dreams for a stage win fly by. 

Stage 7 : Tomblaine > La Planche des Belles Filles / 199 km / Climbing the wall

This was the first day in the mountains, and it was a great choice for seeing who was up for the challenge. The stage had a few middle-difficulty mountains and then came the final 6 kilometers. First, there’s a bit of an editing issue: in the poster we state that the incline was 9.4 km, but it was really 6 km, and the 20% incline is just the last several hundred meters right up to the finish line, although a good bit of it was 14% which is quite a serious slope.
Anyway, riders were scattered all the way down the mountain. Sky Procycling (the team with overall contender Bradley Wiggins and sprinter Mark Cavendish) was leading the charge and had set a brutal pace. As soon as they hit the steepest incline, Cadel Evans (last year’s Tour winner) took off, clearly to show that he intended to take it all the way. Bradley Wiggins, Vincenzo Nibali, and Christopher Froome (on Wiggins’ team) jumped right in behind him. Near the top of the grade (characterized by the TV announcers as a slope that was difficult to walk up), Froome took a shot for the finish line and no one could catch him. He gets the win and that “ZOOM” callout for the super effort.

Stage 8 : Belfort > Porrentruy / 157.5 km / Remember your first time?

With 7 categorized climbs today, there was our major visual element. We found a nice merger between “breakaway” and the 7 mountains. We only had 2 Vs in this large, condensed wood type, but needing 7, we printed the mountains over 4 runs. It appears that sometime in the type’s life a mouse had gnawed at one edge. It seemed appropriate that if the riders were going to have to do 7 mountains, we should do 7 runs. At Lead Graffiti we think that way.
Thibaut Pinot won his first Tour stage, surviving a chase group of 7 of the top 10 in the General Classification who came within 26 seconds of catching him.

Stage 9 : Arc-et-Senans > Besançon / 41.5 km / Lightning strikes thrice.

Today was an individual time trial. The riders leave the start house in evenly spaced increments based on their current standing in the General Classification.

Four-time individual time trial world champion, Fabian Cancellara, put down a ride that took more than a minute off the best time up to that point. Then Chris Froome of Sky Procycling, a newcomer to the Tour and the winner of the first mountain stage this year, knocked a surprising 22 seconds off Cancellara’s time. Two riders later, Bradley Wiggins, the eventual Tour winner, peeled another amazing 35 seconds off the best time.

The announcers said, “Wiggins is on fire,” which gave us our color scheme. For emphasis we decided to parallel the 3 best times as lightning bolts. 

Rest day #1 : Play.

We used a bike chain as a printing element on the first Rest Day last year. We thought we would make it a rule to use it each year. 
Printing was quite a ritual. Tray handled all of the actual printing (about 80 prints total). Jill would pull the chain tight diagonally toward what is the lower right corner of the poster and ink the chain down that side. Ray would ink the other side and across the top of the chain. Then there would be a bit of a dance pushing the chain into shape without any consideration at all for how the previous runs looked. We were imagining the riders trying to stay loose, yet geared up, for the race ahead

Stage 10 : Mâcon > Bellegarde-sur-Valserine / 194.5 km / Car (bike) sick.

The scenery of the Tour de France is breathtakingly stunning. There is no way you would watch a stage on TV and not want to go there. The mountains, trees, narrow roads, houses / mansions, churches, cascading waterfalls, rock strewn rivers (and another 20 categories of cool images we could mention), are all simply awesome.

Today, the scene that stole our attention was the view going up Col du Grand Colombier that was the curviest yet. And Voeckler was worth watching, too.

Stage 11 : Albertville > La Toussuire - Les Sybelles / 148 km / Double play

We are always excited when a French rider wins a stage. Today they were un & deux. Then there was a one / two for the General Classification with Bradley Wiggins and Christopher Froome, both from Great Britain. And then you can throw in that they are both on the same team (Sky Procycling). And there were two hors catégorie climbs today. So there’s the design focus. Twice over. 

Stage 12 : Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne > Annonay Davézieux / 226 km / Ho hum. Four?

As for watching the peloton, this was a boring stage. Indicating a significant rise in the level of British cycling, the UK won their fourth stage of this year’s tour with four different riders. Hmmm. Looked like an opportunity to use our recently-purchased Floriated Capitals for some comment on the peloton’s effort.

Stage 13 : Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux > Le Cap d’Agde / 217 km / Well-timed lunge

Watching the Tour on Bastille Day is always special. André Greipel of Lotto-Belisol Team won his third stage of this year’s Tour with an incredibly well-timed lunge at the finish line. The differences in the two lunges at the line were probably no more than 1/10th of a second apart, and that made all the difference.

Stage 14 : Limoux > Foix / 191 km / Hooligans.

Today the focus was hooligans. That is the word the announcers used after some unknown spectator tossed tacks onto the road, affecting at least 30 riders.

When we made our Stymie Bold Condensed type for the project (actually copperplates), we had redrawn the swash of the Q to match the original. In organizing the type of production, we didn’t notice that it was extending outside of the crop area. So when the original trim was made, we lost about 1/8” of the swash. That means we are hoping that Manuel Quinziato wouldn’t win any stages, as he is the only rider in the Tour with a Q in his name.
The punctured tires were an obvious choice, so we simply sawed off a bit more of the Q to make our flat tire. It was also nice to discover that hooligans have two Os in it. Another typographic element was playing off the word “attack,” which was in constant use in the Tour de France commentary, and the fact that it contains the word “tack.” A set of thin Ts made the perfect pinpoint reference to tacks.

Then came one of those moments in the stage that will forever make us a fan of the Tour de France. Last year’s tour winner, Cadel Evans, had one of the punctured tires and had to go through three tire changes costing him minutes of time that would essentially end any chance of his winning this year. Bradley Wiggins, currently wearing the Yellow Jersey and whose Sky Procycling team was leading the peloton, called for a slower pace allowing Evans to catch up—an excellent example of gentlemen’s behavior and good sportsmanship.

Stage 15 : Samatan > Pau / 158.5 km / Pre-rest day rest day.

The peloton did not want to race today. A breakaway succeeded, resulting in the French winning their 4th stage of this Tour which is nice. The sprinters didn’t seem to have any enthusiasm for racing at all. Everyone was saving their energy for two very serious courses that occur in the last five stages of this year’s tour. 

REST DAY 2 : Post-pre-rest day rest day.

We had printed a makeready sheet yesterday that had a kind of nice look to part of it, where two letters were printed slightly out of register, but in different colors. So today we decided to use that accident from yesterday. We took the same lockup and simply shifted the individual parts in 6 point increments to get a bit of wiggle to them. Sort of like stretching to keep the muscles limber.
Stage 16 : Pau > Bagnères-de-Luchon / 197 km / Mon dieu!
In a stunning show of “digging deep,” today might have been the most amazing display of athletic endurance we think we’ve seen in the Tour. Ever.

  • First at the summit of hors catégorie climb of Col d’Aubisque –
        Tommy Voeckler.
  • First at the summit of hors catégorie climb of Col du Tourmalet –
        Tommy Voeckler.
  • First at the summit of category 1 climb of Col d’Aspin –
        Tommy Voeckler.
  • First at the summit of category 1 climb of Col de Peyresourde –
        Tommy Voeckler.
  • First across the finish line – yep, Tommy Voeckler of Team Europcar.

Mon Dieu! for sure.

Stage 17 : Bagnères-de-Luchon > Peyragudes / 143.5 km / Locked? We think so.

It was the last day in the Pyrenees and essentially the last day for any of the serious contenders to make their move. We can only imagine how it must feel to have trained for a year, focused on the monumental stage on which to make your play, get to the point of reckoning, and then not have the legs. Maybe the reason is mental and the fact that you are completely beat down by two serious mountain stages. Or the reason may just be that the advantage goes to those in the lead. It isn’t a matter of winning sometimes, but a matter of not losing. Just keeping up, all things being equal, is a lot easier for the person in the lead.

We designed the poster with the tight formation of type about the two leaders mimicking the arrow we used to indicate the stage win, but then someone will always slip out and win the stage.

Stage 18 : Blagnac > Brive-la-Gaillarde / 222.5 km  / Lightning Man.

Mark Cavendish is a bullet and took his 22nd stage win, which ties him for the most Tour stage wins by a sprinter. Finally, we get to “mark” that off our list of things to look forward to. 
If he is close to the front near the end of the stage, he is really hard to beat. It also gives us a nice excuse to do some hand-rolling on our largest wood type.

Stage 19 : Bonneval > Chartres / 53.5 km / PDQ = Pretty Damn Wiggins

Today was a 53 km individual time trial. No team. No help. No drafting. Just legs and lactic acid burning.

There had been some early trash talk about Bradley Wiggins of Sky Procycling who has worn the Yellow Jersey for the past 13 days.
Today, he blew away the competition with a stage win that was 1:16 faster than even 2nd place. The other riders may think twice about starting that trash talk next year.

Stage 20 : Rambouillet > Paris Champs-Élysées / 120 km / And just like that, done. 

Today the race was 8 times around the Champs-Élysées and a classic finish.

Near the end, Bradley Wiggins of Sky Procycling was on the front of the peloton, leading out their sprinter, none other than Mark Cavendish going for his record-setting 23rd stage win. This may not seem like a big deal to the uninitiated, but normally the Yellow Jersey just takes it easy, hiding in the crowd, and making sure to stay out of trouble. Wiggins was having none of that and was in there scrapping with everyone else. Cavendish’s lead-out team slowly peeled off, and finally, it was Cavendish against the other lightning bolts. 

Cavendish got his 23rd stage win, which we wanted to do big (and there is none bigger than the Champs-Élysées), as that is more stage wins than any other sprinter ever. It puts him 4th on the all-time list (most are 34, so he still has some years to catch that).

But we couldn’t help wanting to celebrate Sky Procycling’s efforts for this year’s tour, and they were amazing.

Bradley Wiggins, first. Chris Froome, 2nd. Mark Cavendish his 23rd stage win. In total, they won 6 of the 21 stages. Wow. Wow. Wow. Wow. Wow. Wow.