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Behind The Lens | Russ Ellis

Behind The Lens - RACING IN YORKSHIRE

With the World Championships taking place in Yorkshire, we reached out to professional cycling photographer Russ Ellis. With the race set to unfold on his local roads, he gave us his insight on what makes this a proper cycling destination.

I think of myself as an adopted Yorkshireman as I’ve lived the majority of my life here now. It’s massive that the Worlds will be held here on my home roads. The appetite for cycling in Yorkshire is huge, you only need to look at the film footage of when the Tour started here in 2014 and then all the subsequent Tour de Yorkshire footage to see that.

The atmosphere is going to be off the chart. The Grand Depart back in 2014 was spectacular, but I think this could be even bigger. The fact that the Worlds is spread over a full week means that people will really go to town, organising days out to watch and visiting the numerous fan parks and events that local businesses are putting on to celebrate the event. The Worlds will also bring all the best road racers in the World. The best of each road racing discipline, men’s and women’s, juniors, U23s and Seniors. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.

The same grippy roads that will make the world championship race super hard also make the riding around Yorkshire super fun and challenging. It makes you a strong rider without you even having to try - just riding here is enough. Add in the scenery and the amount of people that cycle here and it truly is one of the best places to ride your bike.

To be able to photograph the world’s best riders racing on the same roads that I train on is indescribable. It’s like Manchester United turning up at the local park to take on Real Madrid before going back to the village hall for a mug of tea.

Yorkshire’s connection to cycling runs deep. It’s not an easy place to ride a bike, but it’s addictive. The roads are grippy and the weather isn’t always great, but the roads are quiet and really challenging. I only really got into cycling after I moved to Yorkshire. There’s a proper community around it, with lots of the UK’s top riders from here or living close by. You’ll see them out training and at the local cafe, the same ones that your club ride might finish at.

Part of that community is what really makes the Worlds in Yorkshire so huge. It’s a proper world class event in a place that doesn’t often get that international exposure. The atmosphere is going to be incredible. Since the Grand Depart of the 2014 Tour de France, we all know that cycling in Yorkshire can pull a crowd. Because it’s a week long, the amount of events and businesses that are getting involved has exploded. The way people here are getting behind cycling is bigger than anywhere else I’ve been.

When I’m out on rides, I stop by The Cavendish Pavilion at Bolton Abbey. It’s a very famous cycling cafe that is heaving on a Saturday morning with up to a hundred cyclists. You’ll often come across past and present pro cyclists like Sid Barras, Scott Thwaites, Tom Pidcock & Rob Scott in there. My proper local is The Commute Cycling Cafe in Ilkley, where you can get great coffee.


If you are actually in Harrogate then I’ve got a couple of recommendations. First, you’ve got to go for one stop at the Prologue Performance Cafe for great coffee, food and banter with Jon the owner. Next, for the Worlds, Tilly Pepper’s Cafe is going to be a hub for riders. Again the coffee is cracking, and, with the circuit going practically past the door, it’s a great spot. Finally, if you’re after a beer, Zwift have set up their Draft House, perfect for a pint whilst watching the racing.

The Dales are full of quiet roads and challenging climbs so you can’t go wrong - it’s one of the best places to ride in the UK. That said, if you’ve got a bike and time for riding, it’s probably a good idea to try and tackle some standout climbs like Park Rash, Fleet Moss, Tan Hill, Buttertubs Pass, Malham Cove, and Langbar will all get your legs pumping.

The biggest surprise here though won’t be the weather but the roads. It’s either up or down, it’s super grippy and on a route profile there will only be the categorised climbs that are listed. That doesn’t tell the whole story. It’s seriously leg sapping terrain and after almost 300km around these roads the victor will be the most worthy winners of the rainbow stripes that there has ever been.

As for who to watch out for, after the Tour of Britain, Mathieu Van Der Poel is looking incredibly strong - he’s got that punch to be the first over the sort of climbs that we have here. After the Tour though, it’s a mistake to write off Julian Alaphillipe. He’s hungry for it too after losing yellow - it’d be good to see him in rainbow bands... But then there’s always Sagan. Fourth time’s a charm right?

That’s only one race though. Locals have a lot to shout for in the Women’s race, Lizzie Deignan is racing for the title in her backyard and she’s got form. In the U23s, it’d be cracking to see Tom Pidcock pick up another rainbow jersey too.

Thanks to Russ once more for taking the time to talk us through his life behind the lens at the forefront of Pro-Cycling. Keep up to date with his work in the pro-peloton by following him on Instagram. Alternatively, check out his work on our Autumn Winter 2018 Shoot in our Lookbook.


If you're headed to Harrogate for the World Championship week, come and find Le Col at Tilly Pepper's Cafe on Cold Bath Road.