They may not be as fast moving as some of nature’s other predators, but mountains can be wounding adversaries for anything foolhardy enough to stray into their path. As cycling’s Grand Tours wind their way through the most gruelling European climbs each year, they inflict pain and suffering on all who ascend and descend – viscously punishing any signs of weakness.
Mountains – Epic Cycling Climbs is a photographic study of, and love letter to, the continent’s most arduous and historic mountain roads – which challenge amateurs and professionals alike.
Covering cycling icons like Mont Ventoux, Stelvio Pass and Alpe d’Huez, it’s a celebration of the mountains’ storied history as racing stages – the scenes of death, disaster, agony and ecstasy; and their majesty as wonders of the natural world – evoking awe and wonder at their scale, permanence and power.
Photographer Michael Blann is also a former professional cyclist and therefore appreciates both the aesthetic beauty of each peak and its place within cycling’s imagination.
From the Ardennes to the Pyrenees, over the last century these towering peaks have set the stage for some of the greatest cycling contests and Blann enlists professionals past and contemporary, including Lizzie Armitstead, Romain Bardet, Greg LeMond, Stephen Roche, and Geraint Thomas, for their insights on taking on man and mountain at the same time.
Michael Blann’s Mountains – Epic Cycling Climbs is available now, published by Thames & Hudson.