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Photographer Captures Passion Cyclists Have for Sport

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.