An inside look at the grueling world of professional cycling

Published on 29 June 2024 at 15:19

“You’re in it as a photographer. What other sport is so close?” Music photography is that close, of course. And that’s what makes this book outstanding.

Photographs by Kristof Ramon

Ramon has spent almost 15 years documenting these moments in professional cycling, attempting to capture the essence of the sport with all its suffering, beauty and drama as it forces riders to push the limits of human endurance.

The images in his new book — “The Art of Suffering” — thrum with emotion, whether they are depicting the joy of winning a stage at the Tour de France, the exhaustion of fending off a fan trying to take a selfie after a race, or the pain of having hands rubbed so much by handlebars that they have become bloody. This year’s Tour de France starts on June 29.

With his photographs, Ramon hopes to convey “just how deep these guys need to go to try and reach their dreams, and not all of them can.”


The world of cycling can be weird and wonderful. One of Ramon’s photos depicts a fan dressed in a cloudy sky morph suit standing against a cloudy sky; another shows cyclists swerving to avoid some sheep that have ventured onto the road; in another, a team stands in some kind of urinal contraption with one cyclist barely containing his giggles.

Unlike in most other sports, photographers in cycling are directly involved in the action, taking photos from the back of motorbikes or wheel-to-wheel with the riders, descending with them at lightning-fast speeds, and sometimes chatting with them at more relaxed points in the races.

“Could you imagine as a photographer being at a football match and running onto the pitch? It’s crazy,” Ramon says.

“And to actually sort of doing it. Sometimes … I need to go through the peloton to get ahead again and you go like: ‘Hey Michael, how are you doing? How are the kids?’ It’s crazy … You’re in it as a photographer. What other sport is so close?”

Music is, of course. And that’s what makes this book outstanding.

The Art of Suffering,” published by Laurence King, is now available for pre-order.