Cycling Gallery: The mud-covered faces of a soggy Gent-Wevelgem
Pain, desperation, frustration, relief, joy – it's all there on the faces of the riders at the 2023 Gent-Wevelgem.
Ah yes, spring racing in Belgium. Narrow farm roads covered in who knows what, tough cobbled climbs, cold weather, and more than a bit of rain. Sunday’s Gent-Wevelgem was one of those particularly soggy Belgian spring days that makes hard races even harder. For many riders, the bad weather meant their morale was shot before they’d even rolled out of Ypres.
Thankfully for those of us at home, watching from the warmth and comfort of our living rooms, bad weather adds a certain something to the viewing experience. A degree of difficulty that only enhances our respect for the riders and their efforts.
And of course, bad weather means terrific photos. Tough conditions for the photographers actually out there capturing the images, sure, but the results are fantastic.
Today we focus on the faces of the riders in the 2023 men’s and women’s Gent-Wevelgem, with contributions from photographers Zac Williams, Ashley & Jered Gruber, Kristof Ramon, and Cor Vos. Let’s get started.
It’s always good for morale when the umbrellas are out pre-race. “So how long’s the race? Oh just 260 km? And it’s going to rain all day? Cool cool cool.” “I knew I should have said yes to Catalunya.” “Alright, just six more months. Hang in there, Peter.” Caption contest – hit us up in the comments. Defending champ Biniam Girmay was all smiles at the start, but had a frustrating day and ended up 97th. Having fun, Jasper? (He was not, and did not. A DNF for him.) This could be Tim Declerq grimacing but I’m going to assume he’s actually smiling, what with him being in his happy place: on the front of a peloton. 2023 hasn’t been kind to 37-year-old Greg Van Avermaet so far. The 2017 winner was 85th on Sunday. Great grimace though. Caleb Ewan was active at times, but ended up six minutes down. He’s yet to take a UCI-level win this year. There are times when the life of a pro cyclist looks glamorous. This is not one of those times. “Hey AI, generate an image of a racing cyclist dejected by the cold, wet, and muddy conditions. Make sure his eyes are bloodshot from all the manure that’s been spraying up into his eyes for several hours.” Peter Sagan doesn’t seem to be enjoying himself all that much in his final season. Can he take another win or two before hanging up his wheels? No caption required. If Wout van Aert and Christophe Laporte found the conditions tough, you wouldn’t have known it. Destroying your rivals has a way of making life better. “Thanks bro, I really didn’t want to sprint against you.” “We go for me next weekend, uh?” Professional cyclist considering his life choices – photographic image. Six hours of wheel spray from Belgian farm roads. Yummy. “I’m definitely getting sick after this.” “Zac, I know you’re from WA too, but I’m gonna need you to move. It’s been a day.” Grit in the eyes, the ears, the nose, and everywhere else besides. ‘Tis a glamorous sport. It’s been a slow start to the Classics season for the Stavanger Stallion, Alexander Kristoff. Which means he’s probably due for a good result at Flanders or Roubaix. Just a couple of happy Jumbo-Visma boys after a 50 km two-up team time trial that made a brutal day look easy. (Shout out to the bottle-mounted GoPro. Gotta get that #content!”) The women’s race started in Ypres once the men’s race was well underway. There were plenty of smiles at the start … … and even the occasional thumbs-up during the race … … but as with the men’s race, the soggy conditions made a tough race even tougher. Shout out to the Very Good Dog wanting to get in on the action. Teuntje Beekhuis was one of the many riders who hit the deck on a day filled with crashes. “Let me see if I got this right: I got a gap without even attacking, nobody bothered to chase, and I was able to ride 45 km into the finish alone? And they’re almost three minutes behind, even after I took a wrong turn? Did they even chase at all?!” Megan “I did an echelon!” Jastrab has every right to be stoked after a great week. That’s two top-four finishes in back-to-back WorldTour races. The joy of Maike van der Duin’s third place would sink in later. For many, there was a sense of relief at just finishing. Ah, there we are: Van der Duin realising she’s snagged another WorldTour podium, at just 21. Real Drake Hotline Bling meme vibes here: “Helping a teammate to win Gent-Wevelgem in a bunch sprint …” 🙅♀️ “Winning it yourself after 45 km solo.” 🙋♀️
2023 Gent-Wevelgem Photo gallery