From 2005 to 2010, I have been portraying professional cyclists. What began as a spontaneous approach to my favourite sport ended up as a book that I have come to view as a portrait of a generation of cyclists.
Back in 2005, professional cycling had already gone through some difficult times due to doping scandals, but between 2006 and now – 2010 – the sport and its protagonists have had to face accusations, ostracism and the loss of sponsorships over and over again. I have witnessed how people within the métier, riders or team members, found it difficult or impossible to take a stand, to find or defend a consistent point of view, and how they were continuously confronted with the existential problems of their sport – sometimes as main actors and other times as bystanders. I have known the Peloton, the pack, as a complex structure of alliances and dependency, of discrepancy and membership, fascinating in its own rules.
Most of the riders I photographed began their career in pre-internet, pre-mobile and pre–GPS times, when cycling was still primarily a european sport, characterised by an unwritten code of conduct, which by now, under pressure from growing disunity and a new economic climate, is dissolving.
Despite all this trouble, however, I could never resist to the beauty of competition days, nor can I resist some of the values and enterprises that this sport requires from whoever decides to become a professional cyclist. The Peloton collects personal statements from nearly all the riders I had the chance to photograph and will hopefully remain as an intimate look at these fascinating – and sometimes exasperating – sportsmen.
Juan Antonio Flecha
Fabian Wegmann & Markus Zberg