2015 Tour of Friendship, Stage 5

Today was the final stage of the race and after a rough few days I was kind of looking forward to it.  It was another flat stage on a mixture of big wide roads and country roads.  I decided to start with the Open group and work my way back down through the groups and try and capture the faces of the peloton rather than the country side.

The Open started like a bat out of hell and the pace was through the roof, who would have thought these guys had 4 days of racing in their legs however there was some real suffering going on.  Eventually it settled down and this is when I stopped and waited for the next group.  I stuck with the next group for a while before stopping at a little shop for a break and to wait for the next group.  Much to my surprise there was a group of guys drinking beer.  It was only 9.40 in the morning and they were already 6 big bottles down.  I declined the offer of a glass of beer and just took a couple of photos which they were happy to pose for.  Finally the last group rolled trough and I was off again.  I hadn’t shot this group before today so it was nice to capture some fresh faces and also get a few shots of the women in the peloton.

Todays race finished pretty close to the hotel thankfully as it was pretty hot.  After a quick shower it was off to the final lunch and prize giving and then onto the bus back to Bangkok airport.  In a way I was relieved to be heading home as this was the toughest race I’ve covered due to feeling off colour, however I still had a great time and I am looking forward to next year.


Various methods of race prep before the start.


A fast start for the Open guys.


Peloton Women.




Beer o’clock! 0940hr.




The race wouldn’t be what it is without all the hard work from this special lady.  Until next year Kai…..


2015 Tour of Friendship, Stage 4

Today was going to be a test for both myself and the riders.  After arriving at the new hotel and going straight to bed with heat stoke I wasn’t sure about surviving the heat on the back of the motobike on what was the longest stage of the race.  A big thanks to my roomy Pete Bennett for the imodium tablets and keeping an eye on me.  After a few miles on the back of the bike I was given a cold bottle of water and this miraculously fixed me and I was back into it.

The stage was pretty flat for the first 90km before the riders had to tackle a 7km long climb and then the remaining kilometers were rolling with some nasty little kickers to really test the legs.  I started the day with the Open and once the leaders of the 40s cat went over the king of the mountain I continued with them.  Just after I headed off to catch the leaders of the 40s the road surface turned to hard packed and dusty gravel.  The dusty conditions reminded me of scenes I’d seen on TV of professional races like Strada Bianca or Paris Roubaix.  I quickly caught two riders from the Specialized Mavericks trying desperately to get across to the lead group of 3 riders and with some solid chasing it wasn’t long before it was a group of 5.  The undulating terrain took it’s toll and the group was down to 4 for the last remaining 20km.  I had to leave the guys to head to the finish just as they were having a few little digs at each other to see who had the legs for the final 300-400m climb to the finish.  I had positioned myself just before the top of the climb and was pleased to see Alan Grant of Specialized Mavericks had attacked the group and was powering his way up the climb to take the stage win.  Here are a few shots from the day and you can see the Stage 4 gallery by clicking here.


Team Direct Asia controlled the front to the first big climb.


The pain was showing early on the big climb.


Lucky charm…..maybe??


The yellow jersey driving the pace off the front.


Peter Sagan eat your heart out!!


Strada Bianca?


Fast, smooth flowing roads out to the turn around point.


The water looked very inviting.


Alan Grant attacks on the final steep climb to the finish line.


This says it all…’Tour of Friendship’



The wonder boys!

2015 Tour of Friendship, Stage 3

Waking up with a dodgy tummy and knowing you have to spend hours on the back of a motorbike was a worrying thought and I stayed in my hotel room for as long as possible before the race started.  It was also a transfer day so once I checked out there was no going back and that was an even scarier thought!  Once the race started I felt better and was luckily able to concentrate until we got a flat tyre.  I was then stuffed into a water wagon until I got a new bike and driver.  It didn’t take long before I was on another motorbike and back shooting the race.

Today’s stage was flat with a final 1km climb up to Khlong Tha Dan dam and I accompanied the 30’s, 50’s and master men. There was a small flurry of attacks at the start of the race but it settled down and pretty much stayed together to the final climb.  As soon as the peloton hit the bottom of the climb, there were a couple of crashes and this split the group.  I positioned myself further up the climb to capture the riders on one of the steepest sections and also to try and capture some of the other race categories as they came through.  We had to wait until the last riders finished the climb before the support vehicles were allowed up to the dam and that made for a very long hot day and by the time we transfered to the new hotel I was cooked.  Below are a few photos from the day and you can see my race gallery here.


Out onto the open highways with the old guys.



Some very nice bikes in this group.


Well…it smelt good…..


A welcome sight at the end of the stage, at least for me.


These guys escaped the crashes at the bottom of the hill and raced hard up the climb.



It was a short climb but it hurt.


It was a long lonely walk to the finish line for some.

2015 Tour of Friendship, Stage 2

Stage 2 started and finished in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ayutthaya.  I hadn’t really paid much attention to where we were, due to a few hotel room issues in addition to editing Stage 1 photos, so I was pleasantly surprised when we re-entered the city for the closing few kilometers. The temples and elephants were quite distracting.

After a short neutral zone at the start the attacks started and eventually a group of 4 got away.  I stayed with the peleton for a while before moving up the road to the break.  To my surprise there was a rider in no-mans-land trying to bridge across – Jimmy Butler was that man and he was flying! I really thought he was going to make it. He was within sight of the break when he came upon an over-bridge and this must have been what cooked him as after that the gap to the break began to grow.  I really wanted to give him a draft behind our motorbike but thought better of it and we left Jimmy to battle the heat and small breeze by himself.  If only we had stayed with him for a few more kilometers – there was a left turn where the tour signage was hard to spot and Jimmy (and a couple of others) missed it and ended up 80km from the finish after he had already ridden 110km chasing down the break – bugger!

Once I caught up with the break – after getting a bit lost ourselves – I stayed with them to the finish line. This is where the race came a bit unraveled and got very confusing.  I’m not sure if we were supposed to do laps of the city center but we did about 4 before heading to the finish.  To our surprise the peleton had already finished, after having dramas of their own, and they had agreed amongst themselves to neutralise the stage.  In typical Thai fashion it was all sorted out without any fuss and it was on to stage 3.  Below are a few images from the days racing and you can see the Stage 2 gallery here


Sunrise over Ayutthaya.


The first attacks start.


Small groups tried and failed to get across to the break.


The break worked well together.


The break rolls through at speeds around the mid 50km/hr mark.


Jimmy Butler going full gas to get to the break.  The break was so close…..yet so far.


The break races past the elephants.


Ayutthaya Temples were impressive (yet distracting).


Tough day in the saddle for some!


2015 Tour of Friendship, Stage 1

It’s hard to believe the 2015 Tour of Friendship has been and gone and entries are being taken for 2016.  I was excited to return this year as there was supposed to be a new course for the ITT and a new district for the remaining stages, however when the circumstances changed beyond the organisers’ control they were forced to revert back to the 7km ITT and a district visited back in 2011 for the rest of the race.  As usual Bangkok put on a scorcher of a day and it was super hot out on the course.  This was my fourth visit to the tour and it was a real challenge to get some new angles of the course and avoid melting into the asphalt.  I was pretty happy with the images in the end and here are a few from the days racing.  You can view the Stage 1 Gallery with the remaining images here.












Milton Keynes WCX

As soon I as found out about Milton Keynes hosting a round of the UCI Cyclocross World Cup I immediately got our tickets and started planning our trip.  This was the first time in history that a UCI Cyclocross World Cup race was to be held outside of mainland Europe and with most of the big names attending, especially Sven Nys, it was not a race to be missed.  A one hour plus delay getting across London put us on the back foot and we unfortunately missed the Junior Men.  However we had plenty of time to wonder around the expo and rider pit area before the elite training and racing started.  It was great to see these elite athletes up close and mixing with all the fans.  There was an estimated 8000 spectators at the event.

Just before the official training started we headed to the course and parked ourselves at one of the most treacherous parts, a slippery off-camber descent into a very muddy left hander.  We had picked a good spot as it was very entertaining watching the pro’s negotiate their way down the hill and around the corner.  We stayed there for the start of the Womens race and we weren’t disappointed as there was a big pile up when one of the lead ladies went down which in-turn brought most of the pack down.  This really helped the four lead riders get away from the pack.  Ultimately it turned into a two horse race between Katie Compton and Sanne Cant with Cant taking the win in a sprint finish.  The Mens race was very exciting as well with a closely fought battle between Kevin Pauwels and Klaas Vantornout in the closing lap with Pauwels out-sprinting his teammate Vantornout for the win.  Unfortunately Sven Nys had a mechanical on the first lap and that put him third last at the end of the first lap. Chasing for the remainder of the race Nys finished eighth.  Overall we had a great day and would highly recommend attending one of these races.  Here are a few of my favorites pics and you can see the rest on my flickr page here.


The specially laid asphalt start/finish straight.


Jeremy Powers practices the muddy left hander. Mud glorious mud and SuperFan Gabi.


The British fans out in force.  Ian Field fans flying the Union Jack.


Elite Men practice in the mud.


Accredited photogs! Get all the good spots and always in the way.


The Womens race was very exciting, especially the start.

img_Sports_0499A lot of running where it should have been riding.


Katie Compton trying really hard to drop Sanne Cant on the tricky parts of the course.


At the bottom of the course was a big muddy puddle. I’m sure they enjoyed this part the most!


The pits were the busiest place on the course during the race. Most of the mechanics spent their time water blasting the mud off the swapped out bikes so they were ready for the next change.


Klaas Vantornout was never far from the front of the race.


Marcel Meisen eventually finished 26th.


Riders used anything they could help with traction in the mud.


The 38 year old Belgium Champ Sven Nys, chased hard after his first lap mechanical.


Eventual winner Kevin Pauwels leads in the closing laps.


Rapha Supercross

Below is my take on the Rapha Supercross race held on the weekend.  Held at Ally Pally, Gabi and I trekked across London to see the event.  As it turned out the weather was good and the racing full on!  It was a fun day out and I would recommend attending one of these cyclo cross racing days.


A great sunny autumn London day.


Early races saw a mixture of Senior and Veteran races.  A nasty muddy climb sorted the men out from the boys.


One of the obstacles out on the course.


Some very heroic re-mounts were witnessed.


The up hill bog was a real lung and leg buster.


Rapha noise makers.


Too wet and steep to ride.


The Invitational Elite race was full gas from the whistle!


One of a couple of riders who chose to bunny hop the boards.


The mechanics were ready with clean spare bikes on each lap.


Team Europcar Pro Roadie Dan Craven turned up for the fun race and ended up racing Elite race first.


The fun race included the tequila shot shortcut and a huge foam canon.


The foam was like a huge snow drift across the course.



Some of the racers dressed up for the fun race.


Dan Craven still looked ‘All Pro’ even after a tequila shot shortcut on every lap.


Finally the kids got to give the foam ago!



2014 Silk City Cyclocross

On a recent trip to the States we had un-expected visit to the Connecticut Cyclocross Championships.  I was pretty keen to have a look but was ruing the day for the second time on this trip that I didn’t bring my Canon equipment.  But as they say ‘The best camera is the one you have with you’, my Fujifilm X100s was in for a work out.  We arrived in time to see the last couple of laps of the Womens Pro and then the Mens Pro race.  I was so gobsmaked by the speed and skills of the women I didn’t take any pictures and this being my first visit to a cyclocross race, I was trying to take it all in.

The mens race started with a formation lap before heading onto the main course.  They were all so tightly packed and going at break neck speed into the first single track I thought there was going to be a big crash.  Most of them seemed pretty experienced and they all got through safely, much to the disappointment of the large crowd at the pinch point.  I walked most of the course and it was a real lung buster for the riders.  Lots of short steep climbs with technical descents tested the riders and the dry dusty conditions hid the odd tree root.  The strongest of the riders were able to power up the climbs with the remainder dismounting and running up.  We had such a great time watching these guys race each other we were all thinking what the next bike in the stable will be…..cyclocross bike maybe?  Overall the FujiFilm X100s performed quite well and I managed to get a few keepers even with the 23mm fixed focal length.  I met another photographer Christopher Moore from CTOutdoorguide.com and you can check out his pics here.


The Pros made dismounting and jumping obstacles look easy.


The course snaked it’s way around the park.


It was surprising how fast these bikes can go on grass.


Steep, dusty, and technical descents tested the riders.


No.4 had the power to stay on his bike up the steep climbs.


The obstacles were a perfect place to attack and try and drop the opposition.


Another attempt to ride one of the steep climbs, it was a good attempt but he ended up running.


More action over the boards, it was a good save after tripping on the board.


Dirty, but happy with a great race.