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 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 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