Reflections on the Semi-Classics By Kristof Ramon
With two races cancelled (Nokere Koerse and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne) and more races being shortened and rerouted becaue of miserable weather, it’s been an extreme start to the Spring Classics. Obviously the conditions make it hard on the riders and team staff, but the photographers also have it tough. Belgian photographer Kristof Ramon has been working most of the early semi-Classics and here are the images and stories he brings back.
I spoke with Kristof last night and here’s what he has to say about shooting in this autrocious weather:
“The one thing about photographing these races this year is that it completely numbs you. As a comparison, one year ago at Gent-Wevelgem it was 22C. It was sunny, I was sweating. Just the other day at the same race the temperature was around freezing, and felt even worse with the blistering eastern wind off the sea. It was -10C with the windchill.
All the clothes you have on, even if you have good clothes, can get bulky. I’ll sometimes need to wear a balaclava but everytime you try to take a photo the thing moves in front of your eyes underneath your helmet. A photo which is relatively easy to take in normal conditions becomes very tough. You so too much stuff cluttering your hands and equipment and you need to wear gloves or else your hands will freeze (as a side note, Heinrich Haussler is the only rider so far not to wear gloves for any of the races). With gloves it’s obviously not easy to turn the dials and press the buttons to change the camera settings. It slows you down. Another factor is the extremely wet weather. Camera gear is good these days, but I want to protect mine. This means you have to put plastic around the camera which just slows things down again. But I love the pictures that have resulted from the past couple months. I love it when the pictures come out rougher and even more blurry by mistake. This conveys what the conditions are like.
Despite these unbelivably cold and miserable conditions during the spring classics this year, I still feel like I can do my job as a photographer. Fortunately I know these guys and we have a mutual respect for what we do. It’s pretty hard seeing them in agony, but all the soigneurs, mechanics, and staff are there taking care of them, so I don’t have a place to help out. I must remind myself to keep recording these events, because I tend to stop & feel share sympathy… The riders don’t care about me being there and in fact they almost always ask to see my photos afterwards with a laugh. Afterward they want a reminder of that misery they went through. At least somebody recorded it, so it wasn’t all for nothing & we can look back at it in the future with quite a story to tell”
In races like these early Spring Classics, you can be an aweful photographer, but it’s nearly impossible to take a bad photo in these conditions.”
I think Kristof is being modest in his last statement, but I think you get the picture. Enjoy.
Note: Milan-San Remo is not considered to be a semi-classic but is included in this gallery.