While the eyes of the cycling world were focused on the Tour of Flanders last Sunday, some of Britain’s top riders were competing in the closest that this country has to Flanders-style racing, the Dengie Marshes Tour, and renowned cycling snapper Geoff Waugh turned to video to capture some of the action of the 113km race nicknamed ‘The Hell of the East.’
That nod to the alternative name of Paris-Roubaix, ‘The Hell of the North’ isn’t coincidental – the course, close to Burnham-on-Crouch in Essex, may be lacking in cobbles, but more than makes up for the absence of pavé with much of the action taking place on rough farm tracks. The wind blowing across the flat landscape provides a further hazard for riders to deal with.
Geoff’s film, while short, captures some of the drama of the race that was won by Rapha-Condor-Sharp’s Zak Dempster from team mate Graham Briggs, and the Paris-Roubaix connection was reinforced by the podium being completed by a past winner of that race, Magnus Backstedt, riding for Team UK Youth.
You have to feel though for Motorpoint’s Ian Bibby as he crashes off his bike and tumbles into a bed of nettles; one of his team mates, Andrew Magnier, would suffer a broken collarbone during the race, on a day that left many riders battered and bruised.
On his website, Geoff says: “Went out to a remote part of Essex yesterday; the flatlands between the Blackwater and Crouch estuaries where the so-called 'Hell of the East' bike race was being held. Private roads, often full of potholes, and rough farm tracks to form part of the course, a homage to the famous Paris Roubaix race in France and other classic early season races held in Belgium.
“The race was in doubt this year but sponsors stepped into save it and two or three bigger teams entered to make good fist of the racing itself. So, inevitably there was more press interest and more photographers! I have shot the race three times now and decided to forgo stills and practice my video DSLR technique instead. It ain't easy! Under two minutes footage from a three odd hour race. Hey ho.”
In conclusion, with words of advice that any aspiring sports photographer should note, Geoff says, “Still learning. Always learning.”
Dengie Marshes Tour 2011 Result 1 Zak Dempster Rapha Condor Sharp 2 Graham Briggs Rapha Condor Sharp @ 43 Secs 3 Magnus Backstedt Team Uk Youth 4 Luke Rowe 100% Me 5 Wouter Sybrandy Sigma Sport/Specialized 6 Johnny McEvoy Motorpoint @ 1-27 7 Kristian House Rapha Condor Sharp @ 3-30 8 Tobyn Horton Motorpoint 9 Marcin Bialoblocki Motorpoint 10 Simon Gaywood Team Corley Cycles/Cervelo 11 Dan Craven Rapha Condor Sharp 12 Dean Windsor Rapha Condor Sharp 13 Kristian Downs Twenty3c-Orbea 14 Andrew Griffiths Twenty3c-Orbea 15 Simon Richardson Sigma Sport/Specialized 16 Martin Smith Primal Europe @ 5-20 17 James Sampson Motorpoint 18 Ashley Cox Team Corley Cycles/Cervelo 19 Erick Rowsell 100% Me 20 Frederik Johnasson Team Uk Youth
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.