As part of the photography section for The Road Book 2021, curated by Russ Ellis, this year The Road Book also included an extra image from photographer Bram Berkien (@bramberkien) who captured a string of images of the inaugural women’s edition of Paris Roubaix. The following is a short first hand account from Bram of life behind the lens for this historic moment in cycling history.
Here to stay
Going into my second time shooting Paris-Roubaix, I wasn’t even fully aware of the historical nature of the 2021 edition. I was mostly just excited about the race ﬁnally happening again, after having been postponed as many as three times in two years due to COVID. Though I imagine not every rider will agree with me, I was also thrilled about the prospect of some very wet and muddy cobbled sections.
During the days before the race, I mostly documented the riders doing their recon, in addition to staﬀ preparing everything from bikes to bottles. After tagging along with the women’s team on some cobbled sections, I waited in the Velodrome to capture the riders doing their one and a half lap. Their ﬁrst one and a half lap ever, I realised only that moment.
An interview crew for the renowned Belgian show Vive le Velo had arranged for the iconic showers to be opened for their interview with Marianne Vos there. Along with my very talented colleagues Ashley and Jared Gruber – who were shooting for Cervélo – I tagged along while Marianne entered. The crew were still setting up, so Marianne wandered the showers and got her ﬁrst view and feel of the abundance of history present in the room.
This was when I shot this photo. I have to be honest, at the moment I shot it, it just felt like a sincere and delicate moment. Later though, especially when it got picked up on Twitter and I read the comments some fans posted, I fully grasped the magnitude of the moment and found the words to describe what it meant. I’m seeing respect for the past and all the stories that brought male riders to this iconic room. But I’m also seeing a determined look: we’re here to stay and will write our own stories from this point onwards.
Team Jumbo-Visma staﬀ photographer