Posts Tagged ‘timm kolln’

You Should Have Seen That Coming

November 15, 2013


Words: Andy McGrath

Here’s fair warning: you really can’t say you haven’t seen this one coming.

Long-serving Rouleur contributors Timm Kölln and Olaf Unverzart are exhibiting their photography in Berlin.

“You should have seen that coming” is their first joint exhibition and deals with the subject of road racing.

It is a phrase often used by cyclists and fans when a rider overlooks something – a break or an obstacle on the road, perhaps – that then leads to a fall.

Metaphorically, the phrase is also an exact job description of a reportage photographer: to see things that others do not notice.

I can vouch that Timm and Olaf have a soothsayer’s sense of what will happen and where they need to be.

Take one moment at a race for a forthcoming Rouleur feature. A cyclist was in the process of collapsing exhausted into a van at the end of a grueling stage.

At the simultaneous moment I thought ‘I wish Timm could see this’, he was already there, photographing by my shoulder.

With photography, you can have an idea of what you want to take beforehand or a feature’s concept, but a professional cycling race is the bull that can’t be tamed, changed and by so many variables.

Call Olaf and Timm matadors of the art, then. Their stunning, thought-provoking in-race photographs are matched with casual observations off the track, as well as insights into the private world of the cyclists.

The exhibition at Pavlov’s Dog also attempts to give the viewer an insight into a multi-faceted, heterogeneous sport, beyond a plain list of race winners or the routine mystification of the Tour de France, for example.

Moreover, it includes a selection of work from Kölln’s and Unverzart’s contributions to Rouleur, including photographs from the centenary Tour de France annual and The Peloton.

“You should have seen that coming” runs at Berlin’s Pavlov’s Dog on Bergstrasse from November 15 to December 14 2013.




October 11, 2013

Words: Michael Barry Photographs: Timm Kölln

We spent more than six hours on our bikes and ascended two long climbs. Climbing for over half an hour, the tempo gradually reached the point of discomfort.

Few words were spoken. We both gazed at the road ahead, the peak in the distance, and focussed on the effort. It was December – we knew we should be reining in our effort.

But for Flecha, like me, that is something we find difficult. As in our childhood, we still both want to be on our bikes pushing our limits, which is not always the best for conditioning.

As we reached the summit of the first climb, I asked him if he wanted to ride to the next peak that we could see in the distance. The answer was a simple “yes”.

Rod Ellingworth, our team coach, once summarised Flecha’s training method. “He’s not a rider who lacks the motivation to train hard. He knows what he needs to do to be fit.

“But he just needs guidance as to when he should back off his workload so that he doesn’t arrive at the key races tired.” Racing his bike is a job; riding it is a passion.

During the ride, we chatted incessantly about writing, races, bikes, cycling history, cars, our families, Catalonia and dozens of other things which I can’t recall.

He writes well and has often contributed stories from races to Spanish newspapers. He has a profound interest in life beyond the bike. A mountain of novels always accompanies Flecha to a Grand Tour.

In the team bus or hotel, he leafs through books while his teammates tap away on their keyboards as they check results and chat with friends.

To him, the technology which seems to command many of our lives is simply a distraction from the essence. He is seeking simplicity and nature. But he can also be ferociously competitive when he has to be.

Three months before the Classics, he was already focused on the upcoming month of intense racing in the spring. He knew, based on experience, what he needed to do to be in good shape for the races.

With the guidance of the team’s coaches and sports scientists, Flecha sought out what he thought would separate him from the rest.

Yet, like most top professional cyclists, he will resist new ideas until they are proven and effective. That caution is in part based on superstition and partly on common sense. There is data and then there is hope.

While most cyclists search for warmer climates to escape winter, Flecha spends weekends at his second home in Puigcerdà in the Pyrenees to sustain and improve his climbing.

Unafraid of the cold and wet, he rides while his girlfriend skis, his tyres making tracks in the snow. Cars loaded with skiers pass cautiously.

Despite the discomfort of frozen extremities and the risk of crashing, he finds peace and reason riding alone in the frozen environment.

Like his Flemish rivals, Flecha has learned to persist through inclement weather. He has conditioned his body to become accustomed to the cold and his mind to accept and even embrace it.

A true Classics rider will thrive in adversity. When asked if he prefers a wet or dry Classic, Flecha doesn’t hesitate before answering: “Wet and muddy.”

Wet roads separate the skilled riders from the hopeful. Flecha seems to have battled adversity since he was a boy, following his dreams despite the hurdles of life.

Prior to the Ronde, Flecha was the focal point of our team press conference. The media fired questions at him. They asked about his past, crashes he had been involved in, his rivals, his tactics and his potential.

He deflected criticisms by asking the journalists rhetorical questions. It was apparent in his answers that he felt his nationality hindered him in a xenophobic peloton.

He is burdened with the generalisation that Spaniards can’t handle their bikes on the cobbles and, as a result, don’t belong on the front when there are cobbles. Often blamed for causing crashes, Flecha feels he is scapegoated because of his nationality.

There is truth to this. But like any minority working to fit into a class system based on nationality and performance, he has never felt as accepted or respected by his peers when racing in northern Europe.

It is his tenacity that makes him thrilling to watch on a bike. He will resist and persist, only backing down when it is on his terms.

Extract from Rouleur issue 21. Michael Barry is a former professional cyclist and author of Le Metier, available from the Rouleur shop.



August 29, 2013

Words: Pedro Horrillo Photos: Timm Kölln

André Darrigade was an all-terrain guy and his offensiveness was one of his greatest virtues. He didn’t settle for knowing that arriving in the pack meant you had the upper hand; he provoked the breakaway himself when necessary.

But above all he was a gentleman, an elegant rider who respected his rivals and won the respect of all of them.

You only have to see the admiration with which he speaks about his fellow riders as he turns the pages of his photo albums.

“I came to Biarritz by chance,” he tells us. “After I retired I immersed myself in the media distribution business; first for my hometown of Les Landes and then I went further afield. That’s how I ended up in Biarritz.

“Later on, as well as this business, we opened the Darrigade bookshop next to the casino beach.

“We painted it red in honour of the local rugby team’s colours. Now it’s my son that runs the business, as well as the media distribution that started it all.

“I happened to be here at the same time as the Bobet brothers Jean and Louison, Bretons by birth but Biarrots by adoption. Louison was the first to win three Tours de France and in two of those wins we were team-mates on the French team.”

Rivals at times, team-mates at other times but always friends, they would say.

“They built the Miramar Hotel, that one there [he points to the building that can be seen from the window.]

“By the way, the great Louison died there in ’83, may he rest in peace. Cycling introduced us and brought us together and life led us both to the same place. Now the Miramar belongs to a hotel chain.”

Almost unintentionally we talk about the terrible fall that André suffered during the last stage of the ’58 Tour.

On the last lap of the Parc des Princes velodrome, where that edition of the Tour was to finish, the general secretary of the park ran across the grass to stop photographers getting onto the track.

André collided with him and both were seriously injured. Constants Wouters died 11 days later while André, who suffered serious fractures to his skull and ribs, was taken to the infirmary.

Incredibly – and quite recklessly by today’s standards – he had enough strength to come out onto the track completely wrapped up in bandages to do the lap of honour and personally congratulate that year’s flamboyant Tour winner Charly Gaul.

Later he was taken to hospital where he spent the night in a coma.

As our time in Monsieur Darrigade’s house draws to a close he takes the opportunity to talk about the current state of cycling, roused by the presence of an ex-professional rider as opposed to a journalist.

“What do you make of Cavendish? Seems like a great rider but the sprints nowadays are so different… And how much faith can you put in carbon bikes?

“The fact that the bike weighed so little never gave me much confidence… And what language do they speak in the pack nowadays? The current riders have such strange nationalities compared to the old days.”

In my role as interviewer I’m as surprised as I am grateful for the good feeling André leaves me with.

“You and I were cyclists,” he tells me, “and in spite of the years that separate us, we have so many shared experiences.”

Extract from issue 28


Troublesome Child

January 31, 2013

Ever get that feeling, having entered an event weeks in advance, that it was all a horrible mistake? That the upcoming pain will far outweigh the endorphin high?

I go through the same ridiculous process every time, even though, deep down, I’m aware that the chances of enjoying every single moment of the ride – or certainly the feeling after it’s all over – are high.

Fretting is the default position, even when there is entry on the line. There are chimps on both shoulders, arguing the toss over the merits and demerits of racing, while I sit helpless between, like being on the night bus to Peckham when it kicks off. The spat soon gets ugly, but there is no point in intervening. What will be, will be.

It’s the same deal with the magazine. We send off the finished article to the printers, then the doubts set in: what if it isn’t as good as the last issue? How do we know we have got it right having pored over the content for weeks and become blind to its charms?


The reason struck us is the strange chain of emotions running through the office as we went to press. The editor and myself had concluded issue 36 was not one of our best efforts, and had resigned ourselves to improving next time round. Let it go and move on.

Then the publisher, Bruce, and the ad man, Andy, called us to say it was one of our finest. And the early response from those who had got the issue was the same: it’s a beauty. We are happy to stand corrected.

What the editorial and design team strive for is originality, quality and balance – and it was the balance part we were unsure we had got right. Too much historical and Rouleur becomes a museum piece; all contemporary and we have left our core values behind.It’s not until we get the magazine in our hands, having watched it take shape on a computer screen over the shoulder of our designer, Rob, that we can truly say whether it has worked or not. Thankfully, we all agreed: it has worked, and then some.

And what is contained within the covers of this troublesome child, you ask? Ned Boulting opens with a fabulously written piece on the Revolution track series, with suitably wonderful images by Taz Darling. Guy Andrews, a man with a penchant for a steel frame himself, follows the development of the new Madison Genesis team, who will (whisper it) ride steel frames this season. Retro or forward thinking?

Herbie Sykes, a man who loves a good barney, sits down with Paul Kimmage, not averse to a heated debate himself – ask Lance… It is a fascinating feature on where the sport is now and where it’s heading. Our man Jordan Gibbons goes to Germany to discover one of the finest carbon wheel producers in the world making very expensive hoops from Heath Robinson machinery. And even Lance has to pay to get a set. Superb.




We have two writers new to Rouleur this issue: Olivier Nilsson-Julien talks to Dutch author Herman Chevrolet about his fascinating book on dirty deals and double-crossing in the peloton; and David Sharp spends time with time trial wunderkind Tony Martin, talking over a year of extreme highs and lows, with the always-excellent Timm Kölln recording the scars.


David Curry accompanies Rouleur regular photographer Olaf Unverzart to the Czech Republic to discuss cyclo-cross with Zdeněk Štybar as the former World Champion converts to a career on the road with Omega-Pharma –Quick Step.


Plus columnists Paul Fournel – with Jo Burt’s illustration as usual –  Matt Seaton and William Fotheringham, winners all.

Enough of the hard sell. We’re happy enough, but we’re not the readership. Let us know what you make of it.


September 21, 2011

Words and photos: Ian Cleverly

I decided that to get a true fans-eye view of the Angliru, the famously fearsome climb first used by the Vuelta in 1999 and growing in mythical status ever since, I should really walk up the mountain, 12.5kms of it, 23.5 per cent sectors and all.

Several things transpired to turn me against this carefully laid plan. It was raining. It was cold. An old woman collared me as I wandered the town of Riosa at the foot of the Angliru issuing dire warnings of atrocious weather conditions on the mountain and the inadequacy of my clothing. She may have said something about wolves and killer sheep as well, but I was struggling to translate.

Besides all that, there was a press bus leaving for the summit in half an hour. I’d have been a fool not to, surely?

The entrepreneurial townsfolk of Riosa were flogging rather sad-looking rain capes that may or may not have kept the water at bay for a few minutes. I decided against a panic buy and boarded the bus.

As it turned out, conditions at the top of the climb were less than apocalyptic, even if visibility was far from perfect. I wandered down the mountain from the anticlimactic finish area in search of the party. Prime positions had already been taken, walls on the outside of hairpins providing a place to rest for the next five hours before Juan José Cobo would loom out of the mist and wrestle the red leader’s jersey from Bradley Wiggins.

The 23.5 per cent section of Cueña les Cabres was, as expected, quite brutal. Streams of cyclists passed in various states of distress, notably those on road bikes with insufficiently low gearing. The one guy I saw who seemed to have got his gearing spot on was, unbelievably, a unicylist (exhibitionist, mentalist, depending on your viewpoint). I did not take a picture of him. Such behaviour is not to be encouraged.

Eventually I descended below the cloud level to a broad meadow, home for the day to several thousand Spanish fans, blue and yellow flags of Asturias proudly displayed, beers in hand and a big screen to follow the Vuelta’s progress for the next few hours. I settled in for the afternoon. This was shaping up to be a great day.

 A more considered view of the Angliru, with proper photographs by Timm Kölln (as opposed to my iPhone snaps) will appear in Rouleur issue 26, coming soon.

Ten of the best from the ten best

February 17, 2011

In case you have yet to see our latest Rouleur Photography Annual, here’s a taster of what’s inside – 320 pages of wondrous images and words.

“The best photographic record of 2010 in all of cycling” – Bill Strickland Bicycling Magazine

Gerard Brown - Francesco Marciarelli, Mont Faron, Tour of the MedGerard Brown – Francesco Marciarelli, Mont Faron, Tour of the Med

Guy Andrews – Cav after the crash, Tour de Suisse

Olaf Unverzart – Winning ceremony, Giro d’Italia

Daniel Sharp – Climb on Meeting House Road, Tour of the Battenkill

Marthein Smit – Kevin Seeldrayers in trouble, Tour de France

Timm Kölln – Luisle explains, Tour de France

Taz Darling – Crucifix, Giro d’Italia

Yazuka Wada – Assistance, La Vuelta

Geoff Waugh – Raleigh Round, British National Championships, Barley

Ben Ingham – Castellania

Timm Kölln on The Peloton

November 25, 2010

As has become apparent with the publicity building up for The Peloton, this book has been your life for some five years now. Can you take us through the initial thought process behind the book, and how that resulted in what we see today?

Yeah, it’s certainly been a journey for me. The interesting thing to note here is that it all started in 2004, at the Giro d’Italia. I was in the Dolomites on a riding holiday, and the Giro happened to be on at the same time. I didn’t go and see the race and was only following it casually. However, within that ‘close distance’, I had the feeling I belonged to it, that I should be there doing something. This evolved over time, and after some thought I decided about the approach of the portrait shoots: capture the riders just after crossing the finishing line, in an attempt to get as close as possible to their mind-set when still on the bike.

There wasn’t any great preparation in terms of accreditation when I headed to the Giro in 2005. I just went there with the idea to do this photo series employing a white background and of course, black and white films. So first of all, I wanted to make sure that the shooting itself was feasible. And I had to experiment with the technical process, too: find the right equipment I needed, the right film and the proper way of processing the negatives. After looking at what I had done at the Giro, it was clear that this was going to work. The results were very pleasing, so I decided that the concept was sound and I should expand the project.

By then I was thinking of a photo series that would show the physical changes of a cyclist over a five-year period. However, over time I got more involved with the riders and cycling in general, and my interest developed in much more than just the imagery. The whole project started to change into something whereby we could understand more about the riders from a character and personality perspective. Among others, I began to carefully plan when and where I would shoot a rider as an attempt of getting as close as possible to their most personal, ‘existential’ moments.

Could The Peloton be viewed as a vessel for the emotion that cycling has brought to your life these last few years? Your journey with this project has seen some turbulent times in pro cycling: did that ever colour your thoughts on the riders you shot or your interviews with them?

Of course this has been a difficult journey at times, and there have been times when I was simply not enjoying it. Like at the 2007 Tour, when Rasmussen was arrested in the Pyrenees. I actually left the race that day. For sure I didn’t ever doubt that I would complete the project, but I knew that day it was time to leave it alone for a while.

I always tried to be objective and this is how I approached both the riders and the shoots. I wouldn’t really ask them to do anything or to perform for the camera. Why should I? Some people want to show something by themselves, others don’t and some others do so without realising it. There were many memorable moments, especially when the encounter turned into a moment of mutual respect for what everyone was doing. If this happens, you don’t really have to ask for anything specifically or search for an expression or anything you might have had in mind about someone.

I don’t see myself as a journalist. My relationship with the riders was as a photographer, and I think this is how they perceived me, too.

When it came to the interviews, they had to be measured. I wanted to make sure they would reflect my experiences within cycling and I had long discussions with the journalists who conducted most of the interviews with the riders – to ensure that they understood my relationship and experiences with them too – which was based on trust. I made sure I was present at most of the meetings and I’m convinced it was absolutely worth the efforts.

The challenge in editing the book was finding the right balance. This is a photographic book, first and foremost. But the interviews are important, too, and the book needs to have rhythm, of course. I hope we found a way to offer different possibilities of looking at it: you can only look at the pictures; combine the pictures with the catchwords we choose of any statement; or you really read the entire texts which also communicate with each other, forming thematic blocks within the book.

Interestingly the images are all shot in analogue. Tell us a little more about the reasoning for this and your photographic references when shooting the subjects?

I use 90 per cent analogue cameras. For me it is still the most natural way of working and thinking. I just love the process! You don’t see the results immediately, you have no immediate control, you have to use and trust your imagination, just as well as your subject – especially in case of a portrait. It’s important to keep moments and photographs in your own memory and then look at them with a bit of distance, with thoughts or things you may have experienced in the meantime. And once the films have been developed it reignites the imagination again. The lack of control is exciting. But of course my assistants had to endure my excitement, especially after the shoot. I didn’t stop questioning myself after the events!

My influences and inspirations are almost purely from the important black and white photographers, both reportage and portrait: photographers such as August Sander, Richard Avedon and Anton Corbijn are real influences on my style and approach. However, it is more of a tradition than a certain person – black and white photography specifically. And the technical, manufacturing result is something that I really focus on too.

You were also key (amongst others) in the interview processes with each rider. What challenges did that bring?

This was a tough process to manage. Once Herbie (Sykes) and I did four interviews and 700km in one day, so there were times when it was certainly tough. But you have to remember that if you want to realise a volume like this, you just have to do it, without compromise.

I like the comparison of this to doing a race. The whole process of getting a rider, photos wise, was about getting to the finish and the prize of the shots. But sometimes it didn’t happen, but as with the bike, there is always another day.

You also state that there were riders that didn’t make the book, how was the final ‘selection’ of 96 reached?

It isn’t fair to talk about the riders not in the book. Every process like this needs practice, and at first I sometimes wasn’t happy with the results. Additionally, it is a stressful process, but ultimately it is about results, as with bike racing. The best images and the best interviews made it to the book, and that’s it.

We only ever really know a certain amount of riders in pro cycling, and sometimes the selection of images are a reflection of how cycling is. The peloton has anonymous riders, domestiques, or, like Charly Wegelius, riders that never win a race. But their involvement and contribution are what make both the racing and the metier beautiful.

What do you hope to achieve with the book? Is its philosophy to inspire others or is it merely a portrayal of what life is like in the world of pro-cycling?

It’s funny, as if I said something to support a philosophy or inspiration, it would come across as pretentious. All I can say is that I couldn’t do it better. And I am hugely grateful for the access and enthusiasm that the riders gave me. I hope this is reflected in the book, and I really want the reader to judge the book and tell me if this approach works.

From a photographic sense we have seen everything. It is very hard to do something original, but if people recognise that I have followed a tradition and an unpretentious approach, and enjoy the book, then it is a success.

And what next for Timm Kölln?

There may be a bit less cycling for a while. I need a break. Right now, I feel I have said everything that I wanted to with this book. But certainly there are too many good relationships in cycling that I would want to continue, and I have some more ideas, but I will keep these under wraps for now.

The Peloton – available here

The Peloton launches in Berlin

November 18, 2010

The Peloton, Timm Kölln’s masterful new book capturing portraits of an entire generation of professional cyclists, launched in Berlin last week at the marvellous Villa Pasculli emporium, with Juan Antonio Flecha and Jens Voigt in attendance.

Roger Hammond, Charly Wegelius and Mathew Hayman gave us their thoughts on the images.

“It was the year where I felt fantastic [2009], but made a cock-up. We were on a sector of cobbles and I was thinking the feed zone was coming up, so I should stay out of trouble, but I just drifted back, taking it easy. You either need to be at the front or at the back in the feed zone: in the middle is carnage. So rather than take a risk riding on the grass, I dropped right to the back. We turned left into a crosswind and Saxo Bank put the hammer down and blew the race to pieces. I chased back on at the beginning of the next cobbled sector, but it was still a group of around 40 guys, and I was last across with George Hincapie. As we hit the cobbles, Boonen attacked, so by the time I got to the front of the group, the group had gone. I spent the rest of the day chasing with George and getting nowhere…

“Every year you go to Paris-Roubaix, there is always something new to learn. The race seems to be over in five minutes because you are concentrating so hard. There is no other race like it on the calendar. You can’t afford to relax once, and 2009 proved that. I was in the front all day long, then I relaxed, and it was race over in probably the most unlikely point you could imagine.”
Roger Hammond

It the closest thing I have seen to capturing how fucking hard it is to be a bike rider. His work is every bit as strong as ours. And you have to admire that.
Charly Wegelius

My photo from after Roubaix is special to me, as is that race. I feel lucky to have had Timm photograph me. It feels like his photos make you want to search for clues as to what type of race the subject has just been through.
Mathew Hayman

L-R Rouleur editor Guy Andrews, writer Herbie Sykes, Juan Antonio Flecha, writer Nando Boers, Pedro Horrillo, Jens Voigt, Timm Kölln.

Order your copy here.