With the hundredth edition of the Tour just finished it’s the perfect time to visit the exhibition of Timm Kölln‘s The Peloton at the Fotopioniere gallery in Berlin. For The Peloton, Kölln started in 2005 traveling all over Europe attending every major race on the UCI calendar to photograph the entire professional peloton and capture their images just moments after crossing the finish-line. The results are highly impressive and insightful black and white portraits of all the major (and less famous) professional riders of the period, which were published in book-form by Rouleur in October 2010.
Little did the photographer know when he started his travels that his photographs would be of a generation of cyclists, already with some loss of reliability, but over the years becoming the symbols of a highly disapproved culture in professional cycling which relied heavily on performance-enhancing drugs with almost everyone involved in the sport enabling a significant part of the riders to continue despite all measurements taken against it. Starting on a big scale in 2006, the riders would progressively lose respect, sponsor deals and maybe most importantly a lot of enthusiasts with for instance the German ARD and ZDF refusing to broadcast the Tour live indefinitely from 2011. In the book interviews accompany each portrait; every rider gives their own take on life in the saddle and the trials and tribulations of a sport in turmoil, making The Peloton an exceptionally fascinating document exposing the zeitgeist of professional cycling in it’s most questionalbe chapter to date.
Kölln states on his captivating years in the closely woven circle of professional cycling:
I have known the Peloton, the pack, as a complex structure of alliances and dependency, of discrepancy and membership, fascinating in its own rules. Most of the riders I photographed began their career in pre-internet, pre-mobile and pre-GPS times, when cycling was still primarily a european sport, characterised by an unwritten code of conduct, which by now, under pressure from growing disunity and a new economic climate, is dissolving. Despite all this trouble, however, I could never resist to the beauty of competition days, nor can I resist some of the values and enterprises that this sport requires from whoever decides to become a professional cyclist.
The exhibition will run until the 21st of August. Fotopioniere is located at the Karl-Marx-Allee 87 and is opened Monday to Friday: 11:00 – 20:00 and Saturday: 11:00 to 18:
Book images by Face of Design