Photos: In chasing Tour de France, a photographer finds her voice

The peloton enters the Alps and begins to ascend the Col du Tourmalet.
2006 Stage 11 / Col du Tourmalet, France: The peloton enters the Alps and begins to ascend the Col du Tourmalet on July 13, 2006. The Tour becomes a different race once it enters the mountains. The race strategy shifts dramatically for the teams, and the logistics become much more difficult for the press corps. The Tour could be won or lost in a single decisive move. For photographers, the mountains offer breathtaking views, but severely restricted ways of accessing the race itself.
Caroline Yang

I first saw the Tour de France on an old TV through a shop window in Paris. Standing in the rain, my husband and I watched the cyclists slice through the storm with such power and grace, it took my breath away. Two riders suddenly crashed, and as they fought to rejoin the race my heart pounded with every second. I was hooked.

That experience would eventually lead to an enormous dream: photographing the 2004 Tour de France. Known as one of the world's most prestigious sporting events, the Tour roars through French cities, countrysides and mountains for three weeks each July, drawing 12 million roadside spectators and 3.5 billion TV viewers worldwide.

It all seemed impossible. But the recent death of my father and a diagnosis of a cerebral aneurysm drove me to push aside my fears, and chase my passions. As a new photographer, finding media accreditation without a sports portfolio proved extremely difficult.

Ultimately, through a Taiwanese publication my husband and I arrived in Liege, Belgium, on July 1, 2004, ready to start.

Chasing the Tour left us breathless, yet ready to take on more. The following year, when we struggled to find credentials, I took one desperate leap of faith: I brought my work to Sports Illustrated in New York.

What began as a one-time dream, extended to three years. Sports Illustrated sponsored our credentials for two years, and featured one of my images in its 2006 Best Photos of the Year issue. Our time at the Tour left a permanent imprint on our lives, and we've learned to embrace uncertainty. Most of all, we learned to listen to the voice that stirs so deeply in our hearts.

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