The Tour de France is a huge event for spectators, who come out to cheer on cyclists moving at high speeds. Legendary war photographer Robert Capa captured the race in 1939.
Robert Capa/Magnum Photos

What the Tour de France looked like 80 years ago

Updated 3:06 PM ET, Fri July 5, 2019

The Tour de France is a huge event for spectators, who come out to cheer on cyclists moving at high speeds. Legendary war photographer Robert Capa captured the race in 1939.
Robert Capa/Magnum Photos

In his brief and intense career, Robert Capa became best known for his portraits of war, especially "The Falling Soldier," which was taken during the Spanish Civil War.

But there was more to Capa than just war photography.

In 1939, he was on hand for the Tour de France — then and now cycling's centerpiece event.

This year's Tour runs from July 6 through July 28, and it will attract thousands to its route. That was equally true 80 years ago.

Capa, who was just 25 when he took these pictures, would go on to chronicle World War II, the postwar Soviet Union and the early days of Israel.

He died in 1954 while covering a new war — one in Vietnam, then part of French Indochina. He was 40 years old.

"He left behind a thermos of cognac, a few good suits, a bereaved world, and his pictures, among them some of the greatest recorded moments of modern history," editor John Morris wrote in Capa's obituary.