|Recently, American bicyclist Lance Armstrong won the Tour de France bicycle race for seventh consecutive year. It was an unprecedented string of victories in the grueling, three-week, 2,200-mile race. In its early stages, the Tour takes a route known as the "hell of the North." It's been an inspiration for one photographer, who came to appreciate the cyclists through his love for the region.|
"I used bicycles to take photos of the north," said photographer Xavier Lambours. "Instead of shooting a lovely area as an example of what the north is like, I waited for the cyclists to go by. This gives a certain feeling to the photos. There are bicycles in almost all of my photos."
Xavier Lambours is having a ball on the main country road, where the cyclists are about to appear. There's an interesting choice of faces.
"I take photos as if I were choosing a cast for a film," he said. "I want to see real faces when I go to the movies. I'm not interested in people I can see through. I look for special faces which I find remarkable."
Xavier worked with Jacques Bonafet to select pictures for their book - Cycling Life. It shows the passions cyclists have for their sport.
Xavier says his craft allows him to capture 'in the moment' photos.
"I didn't know the cycling world well. I took photos of people I was attracted to," he said. "Among those people were certain professionals, who are well known. But I didn't know who they were. I simply liked their faces, so I took their photos. And it was the same for the amateurs."
The strength and the suffering can be seen in the photos of riders after a race.
"I took pictures in the showers after the Paris-Roubaix race. You can see the pain in their faces. The guys were there, but not there in a way. They posed for the photos, but their minds were far away," he said.
Pedaling a bicycle can be a tough business. The race may be over, but the photographer remains on the job.