The mountains of Europe have many different meanings for different people. For the locals they are a way of life; for visitors they represent breathtaking beauty, active holidays, and peaceful moments. For cyclists, however, the dramatic landscapes mean something quite different: suffering, pain, agony—and glory. From the Ardennes to the Alps, for over a century the mountains have provided the setting for the greatest cycling contests, where human determination and willpower can triumph over nature and opponents.
In recent years, as cycling’s popularity has changed our cities, made us more active and taken us down less-traveled roads, the mountains of Europe have become the primary destination for everyday riders who want to challenge themselves, experience the storied roads, and escape their everyday lives. This publication is for all who wish to be inspired by those challenges or celebrate those personal victories.
With tributes and personal recollections from leading road cyclists, the photographs and words coalesce into a depiction that transcends any single perspective and will inspire awe and wonder in anyone who wishes to confront the power of the mountains.
Michael Blann is a former professional cyclist turned photographer who works for the world’s leading creative agencies.