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We’re in the privileged position here at CyclingTips to be able to work with some of the very best cycling photographers in the world. Among them is the affable Belgian, Kristof Ramon.
We asked Kristof to go through the many photos he took throughout the 2015 season and pick out a small selection of his favourites to share with us. In addition to the photos you see below, Kristof has also provided a behind the scenes explanation of each image and why it stood out to him.
Gent-Wevelgem: the storm classic
During the 2015 season I worked closely with Orica-GreenEdge on several races. When you share hotels, meals and transport with a team you get to know many of the riders and you obviously care more about what happens to them during the races.
Gent-Wevelgem had been pretty hard thanks to fierce winds but it wasn’t until we turned into the infamous Moeren flatlands that the mayhem began. I was directly behind the peloton when chaos erupted and I saw several riders (and their bikes) flying into the freezing canal directly next to the road.
When I got to the crash site I saw Luke Durbridge climb out of the canal and watch the sense of panic hit him. I stuck with him and as he got all the way up, he crawled into a tuck. The situation was overwhelming and I asked if I could help him. Luke shook his head then buried it in his hands.
He had to abandon the race at this point but was back on the bike the next day.
Shooting from the hip at Paris-Roubaix
Paris-Roubaix is usually the first sunny Classic (in the past few years at least). That means dust and cobbles!
I love the action/composition in this pic — it’s a fine result with my ‘shoot from the hip’ technique where I simply aim my camera without looking through the viewfinder.
Wiggo’s last race in Sky colours
Paris-Roubaix 2015: Bradley Wiggins’ very last race as a member of Team Sky. This post-race face is the last one I took of him this season (back in April).
The unsung heroes of pro cycling are the mechanics. Orica-GreenEdge’s mechanics are seen here prepping the bikes one last time during the Giro d’Italia, the night before the last stage into Milano. Travelling with teams allows you to catch these moments you would otherwise miss.
I simply shot this scene from my hotel room balcony and remember being very happy with the light.
Colle delle Finestre
This was the place to be in the 2015 season: the dirt roads of the Colle delle Finestre on stage 20 of the Giro. This shot reminds me of those classic cycling shots of the 1930s-50s where gravel roads were more common than they are now.
Three times pink at Orica-GreenEdge
Orica-GreenEdge succeeded in putting three Australian riders in the pink jersey in the first week of the 2015 Giro: Simon Gerrans, Michael Matthews and Simon Clarke. A great achievement by the Australian team.
As I was travelling with the team during that amazing week I suggested we should really capture those three historic pink jerseys together one morning. So just before we left the hotel heading to yet another stage start we organised this hasty but fun shoot. Whenever I work with my ‘big’ flash set-up, I can’t resist doing a jump-shot …
I got to know Johan Esteban Chaves pretty well during my stay with Orica-GreenEdge. We had this ongoing joke through the season where I dared him not to smile in any of the pics I took of him (he is, after all, the ‘eversmiling little Colombian’).
At the start of stage 4 of the Giro he was in the white jersey and I simply nodded to him, suggesting he should look up to his right. He immediately understood the joke and happily played along. I love the resulting pic of the young champion next to the ‘giant’ hostess on the start line.
Another OGE rider I came across regularly this season was Michael Matthews. This photo of him polishing his shoes was taken in the back of the team bus the morning after he won a stage of the Giro wearing the maglia rosa. I love covering these intimate prep moments just before the stage start.
I was waiting for the teams to come out of the casino after the Giro presentation. They all had to cross the streets of San Remo to get back to the team buses and when Team Sky came along all of a sudden the opening sequence of the Quentin Tarantino film Reservoir Dogs was recreated right in front of me.
I snapped away and one shot really caught that movie-poster atmosphere. Reservoir Dogs was one of my absolute favourites when I was attending film school back in 1992. I must have seen it at least three times back then.
After finishing the opening stage time trial at the Ster ZLM Toer, Marcel Kittel drops to the ground — he went very deep into his reserves to pull off a good prologue. It was his return to competition after a very long period away from racing and he was trying to get in shape for the Tour de France just three weeks later.
It is not uncommon for riders to go this deep, but Kittel needed such a long time to recuperate from this effort that it was clear he still had a very long way to go. He finished that stage 13th, 12 seconds behind the stage winner. He would not make the Tour de France cut …
The 2015 Tour de France, stage 13. Bryan Coquard drops unconscious for a little while right in front of me after finishing and needing assistance. Racing in the 36°C heat all day takes its toll …
The post-race rub-down
This photo shows Michael Matthews being treated by team osteopath Andrew Gerrans (Simon’s brother) during the second rest day of the 2015 Tour de France. Matthews had high hopes for this Tour but crashed heavily (as did many others) on stage 3 to Huy. He kept racing with severe bruising to his ribs that left him in agony and made it very difficult to breathe.
Schaal Sels: a race reborn
The award for most chaotic race of the year would surely go to Schaal Sels in Belgium. After a long history (89 editions since 1921) the Schaal Sels (or ‘Sels Cup’ in English) race was close to collapsing as a result of low interest from teams and the media. So the organisers drastically changed the course this year and introduced 30km of cobbles and 19km of ‘gravel’ roads … which turned into mud overnight as it rained heavily the day before the race.
What followed was bike crashes, moto crashes, stuck official cars, strikes (by police and then riders), neutralisations, panic, cornfield crossings … and in the end everybody wanted to do it again! It was truly memorable.
Sandpaper saddles and shredded chamois
Every year I somehow manage to create an image that gets spread far and wide. This pic was the 2015 version. It shows Tony Martin’s behind after he finished his (dissapointing) ITT at the World Championships in Richmond, USA. As soon as I posted it on Instagram, it was copied worldwide and illegally used in many newspapers, magazines and websites. It’s probably my most published photo ever, without me benefiting from it …
Somehow I was the only one who noticed the state of his bibs as I saw no other similar pictures popping up after this. As for the photo itself, I shot it in the two-second window I was able to get. The ‘Virginia is for lovers’ somehow balances it all nicely.
Flying through the shadows
I kept coming back to this bridge-like structure when shooting around the course in Richmond. I loved the urban/industrial feel of it. Early in the TTT the sun made these great shadows and I loved this shot of the Hincapie Cycling Team instantly.
At the Worlds finish line in Richmond the UCI was very strict on where we could (not!) stand. I wanted to stand somewhere else. I started walking towards the finish line very late (with no intention of actually getting there) and halted halfway through the line and the exit-route for the riders, hoping that the winner would stop somewhere there once he crossed the finish.
Lo and behold: Peter Sagan stopped exactly where I was standing and he threw the biggest victory show one could wish for, right in front of me. But it was this portrait-like pic of that moment I like the most. Pure joy!