Paris Roubaix 2011

Roubaix The Start

There's not much time to do justice to the Paris Roubaix story in the time available. I should be in the garage pulling gear for tomorrow's trip to the four days of Sea Otter as I'm still incredibly jet lagged and can't stand the thought of another late night. It was a week full of fun with the Specialized boys, Matt from CyclingNews, Neil from Road Bike Action and my Dutch friends Wilfred and Matthias who drove for us. I shot the Roubaix bike, clothing, team prerides, cobbles and finally the race itself on Sunday. Along the way I bumped into Daniel Pasley (creator of the Rapha Continental) who was shooting a project for Castelli; big grins at our collective good fortune.

We managed two cobbled sections in addition to the start and finish of a very dry, dusty classic. I'm still not sure how I feel about covering big races. With so few opportunities to catch the peloton, it's extremely frustrating. I managed ASO accreditation into the Velodrome but not a photo vest to get closer to the action before the race finished. There's more I could say about that situation but in the interest of diplomacy and future access I'll leave it at that.

What follows is a mix of images from the race and the assignment. I'm still struck by how quickly the whole thing wraps up post race. Riders shower, while mechanics power wash bikes and cars at a rapid clip. Three hours later we're having dinner at the Sheraton in Brussels, George Hincapie sitting directly behind me at another table, all cleaned up and relaxed like nothing happened. PRO.

young and old young and old Bernia Eisel girl peaks over the barrier Bjarne Riis The Flandrien Into the trees The Specialized Roubaix On the Cobbles The Roubaix in its element Another day at the office Boonen playing catch up Specialized's hardman D'Alusio the shoes after the race Cav waiting for Goss Boonen playing catch up Face of BMC Garmin rider Lars Bak helmet markings to the showers

18 Responses to Paris Roubaix 2011

  1. Perry says:

    Awesome shots from “La Reine des Classiques” Your style really suits the grittiness of the PB. I was living in France in 1990 when Steve Bauer finished second to Claude Criquellon in a photo finish. I wish I had been in photography then.

  2. Caroline says:

    These are stellar! Hang in there with your travels and keep taking these amazing shots to share!

    • thanks Caroline… I think I need to try the full-on moto experience once to see if that will make a difference to how I feel about race coverage. I get frustrated at having so few opportunities with the riders.

      The encouragement is much appreciated.


  3. Tim says:

    Excellent stuff, Michael! You certainly captured the grit and the grime – stark contrast to Milan-San Remo.
    Did you see this video:

  4. thanks Tim,

    Tweeted that video earlier today after Wilfred in the Netherlands sent me the link. That team actually has done some exceptional sports videos.


  5. BR says:

    I am coming with you next April.

  6. Jesse says:

    Amazing shots!

  7. It’s always hard on big events like this especially if you don’t have all the passes and vests that organisations force on photographers, but you’ve proved that with some diligence and plain Scottish stuborness you can get the shots.
    Through the blanket of dust and grime you managed some great shots and photography that many will have missed or dismissed as they concentrated on purely the riders and bikes.
    Keep your chin up and “don’t let the bastards get you down” was always my motto, you can invariably get around rules and you’ve proved that not always having “the pass” needn’t mean that your images are less powerful and compelling. Sometimes the best shots are outside the barrier, the wire agencies always have the stock shots, you have the wonderful freedom to go where they can’t.
    More power to your shutter finger Michael, and now onto the next assignment.


  8. dag says:

    Love it that Boonen is running the little heart and arrow, like the Lazer of old.

  9. Donna says:

    Awesome photos! I especially like the black and white, having taken a class using black and white film.

  10. NitPick says:

    The pictures of the Roubaix are awesome but my eye goes straight to the white sticker on the bottom of the downtube.

    • I hate those things too, they definitely spoil things… but this was Nic’s personal Roubaix we were shooting. Come to think of it, I’ve never shot a bike for Specialized that didn’t have those stickers on it or photoshopped one out for that matter. Perhaps I should… you’ve got me thinking


  11. kurt says:

    What can I say Velo?, you have come into your own.

    • thanks Kurt, I’m so critical of my own stuff that it’s good to hear it’s resonating out there. I’m really working to “see” the moment before it happens.

  12. iorus says:

    Great shots again, enjoyed them loads last year at the tour de france and now again.
    Make more!

  13. Dave Wyman says:

    Sometimes I’ll get shivers running up and down my back when I see a photograph I really like. As i scrolled down through the beautiful photos here, I felt those shivers.