Cycling magazine Rouleur has always been about much more than spokes and lycra. The publication – which in 2012 released previously unseen photographs by Henri Cartier-Bresson – boasts a considered design aesthetic and stunning imagery, and is now celebrating the launch of its 50th issue with a cover designed by Sir Paul Smith. To mark this milestone, Rouleur’s assistant editor Andy McGrath talks us through some of his favourite cover images and the stories behind them.
At the turn of 2006, ahead of the magazine’s first issue, founder Guy Andrews had the idea to let an emphatic image stand out: do away with coverlines and clutter, and do away with a tenet of conventional magazine-selling in the process. It produced the first and probably most iconic Rouleur cover, which sold out in a flash. Eight years on, we’re still surprised what they go for on eBay.
It’s a candid evocation of the suffering and sacrifice needed to succeed in the sport. It’s individual agony for Jörg Jaksche, photographed here after a mountain-top finish at the 2005 Tour of Switzerland, but also a shared feeling: any cyclist who has pushed themselves to the limit knows how Jaksche feels.
As farmers rallied against price fixing of agricultural goods, the Tour bunch took a breather and Magnum photographer Gruyaert had his image. Simple, understated cool, at a time when the Tour de France was on the cusp of became significantly more commercialised.
Rouleur is about the fabric of the surrounding place and culture, as well as that of the professional sport, so we couldn’t ignore Mike Chick’s striking image. Like some kind of Lynchian insert, what’s a Bolivian army band doing at the country’s national bike race? And what songs are they playing?
This was one of a series of never-before-published images by the father of modern photojournalism, taken from the Magnum archives. Paris’s now-demolished velodrome was a loud, late-night calling point for the capital’s demimonde for decades. Cartier-Bresson captured the striking characters and the piercing essence of the event, rather than the racing action.
Everything is unmistakably ‘90s, from Miguel Indurain, the dominant Tour de France rider of that decade, passing at full tilt, to the garish fashion and thick-rimmed glasses. What completes the image is the mysterious fan staring down the camera.
A fading sticker on the window of the Poli bike shop in Lucca, Italy, made from a photograph of one of Marco Pantani’s most famous victories. His arms are outstreched in a crucifix pose, reflecting the religious-like zeal of his supporters.
The legendary British designer and cycling aficionado was featured in issue 12, and it was great to work with him again for the cover of the 50th issue. Every item in Paul’s montage is from his own collection of memorabilia, including his own racing licence from his adolescence spent road racing in the early 1960s.
About the Author
Emily joined It’s Nice That as Online Editor in the summer of 2014 after four years at Design Week. She is particularly interested in graphic design, branding and music. After working It's Nice That as both Online Editor and Deputy Editor, Emily left the company in 2016.