“A crash and two punctures, so I’ve done Paris-Roubaix right, no?”
I’ve Photographed Paris Roubaix a number of times. It is, hands down, the best race in the cycling calendar. It’s not easy to photograph and unless you’re an “in race” snapper (that’s the guys on the back of motorcycles) it’s becoming more and more challenging. I usually try to find an angle to shoot it – ideally with a British slant- and something always presents itself…
“You have to finish. It’s worth it.”
Welshman Josh Tarling, the youngest Paris-Roubaix rider in 86 years (since Paul Botquint took part in 1937), missed the cut off by just a few minutes, but rode solo for 120 kilometers to the velodrome finish in Roubaix. Despite facing multiple challenges, including a crash, two punctures, and riding alone for a significant portion of the race, Tarling persevered, determined to make it to the finish.
“A crash and two punctures. So I’ve done Paris-Roubaix right, no?”
“It was last man standing. It’s always hard, isn’t it,” Tarling said, reflecting on his challenging day. “My girlfriend would have shouted at me if I didn’t make it here. It’s Roubaix, you have to finish Roubaix.”
Team INEOS Grenadiers rider Tarling started the day positioning his more experienced teammates on the cobbles, but soon found himself at the back of the race after sliding out on a corner and taking his teammate Luke Rowe with him. Mechanical issues further set him back, but Tarling remained resilient and continued to push forward, riding alone for a long stretch of the race.
Although his finish was classed as hors délai* (a total ride time of 6h 1′ 27″ but 6m 28seconds over the time limit), Tarling can certainly and proudly call himself a Paris-Roubaix finisher and at the age of just 19. He expressed gratitude for the experience, acknowledging the support of the crowds and the significance of reaching the finish line.
“It was super cool, all the crowds were the biggest I’ve ever seen and it was 100 percent worth it to get here.”
*in cycling terms, Hors Délai means Time limit – Riders must finish each stage within a certain time limit, calculated based on difficulty, average speed, and the winning rider’s finishing time. Those who fail to finish within that time are considered hors délai, or “beyond the limit,” and must leave the race. In terms of Paris Roubaix being a one day one stage race, this is a bizarre ruling to apply. (detail taken from Bicycling.com)