Most of the cyclists in Timm Kölln’s wonderful book of portraits look more like coal miners at the end of a shift than professional sportsmen. For six years, Kölln has hung around major races with a white backdrop and photographed riders just before they climb on their bikes or immediately after they clock off, caked in muck and grime after a long day in Flanders or weather-beaten and broken by the Alps. The 96 stark black-and-white images collected here are wonderfully expressive and are supplemented by brief interviews that never outstay their welcome.
The subjects include all of the big names of the last decade, minus Armstrong, but perhaps the most interesting are the lesser-known domestiques, the much-abused support riders finally given equal billing with the superstars of the sport. "You get used to not winning,“ admits Charlie Wegelius, a British rider who has been a professional since 2000 and never won a race. "Otherwise it’s like waiting for Christmas every day, and it never comes.”