Behind the Scenes
The covers, the interviews, the show. Since its incarnation in 2006, Rouleur has become one of the world's leading cycling publications, working with some of the industry's most revered journalists and photographers to produce beautifully curated magazines, designed to be timeless, coffee table additions. We sat down with three key members of Rouleur, executive editor, Ian Cleverley, editor, Andy McGrath and art director, Rob Johnston for a behind the scenes look at the inner workings of the publication and to learn more about the event they put their name to.
The fourth floor of a inconspicuous office block, a short walk from London Bridge station and in the shadows of the Shard, we were welcomed into the Rouleur offices by Andy McGrath. Andy and my paths first crossed at Cycling Weekly, where Andy was working as part of the editorial team, while I was learning the ropes as as work experience intern.
Fast forward eight years and Andy is now editor at Rouleur, heading up a team of journalists and photographers. Looking relieved after a frantic few weeks getting the latest edition out to press, Andy explained that they could take their foot off the gas a bit this week, ready for the build-up to the next publication.
A true fan of the sport, Andy explains that when growing up his idols included the likes of Lance Armstrong and now more recently upcoming talents such as the French housewife's favourite, Romain Bardet. It is clear that McGrath is a Francophile at heart, making numerous visits over to the Tour in his time. A man that has interviewed some of cycling's most iconic characters, there aren't many people in the sport Andy still has left to tick off his list.
When asked who his favourite rider to interview has been, Heinrich Haussler and a frank, emotion-filled, post-race interview immediately came to mind. A rider who battled personal demons and distractions on his way to the top, it is clear Andy is as much invested in the riders personally as he is on their performances out on the bike. With that in mind, when asked which rider he still would like to interview, it was little surprise, controversial sprinter, Nacer Bouhanni was top of his list.
The plan for our visit was to ask each of the members of the team what their favourite front cover was. Not a simple answer it would seem. With over a decades worth of editions to choose from Andy took a different tact from his colleagues, by picking an image rather than a photograph led cover as his favourite. Roger Blachon spent 20 years producing colourful and witty cartoons for French newspaper, L'Equipe's weekend magazine. The choice for Rouleur cover 17.4, the picnicking fans provide a stark contrast to the blur of the fast moving Tour de France peloton.
The Art Director
Instantly recognisable, unique in design and one of Rouleur's signature features, the wraparound cover has been a head-turning addition to the publication from day one. Art director, Rob Johnston, has the very important job of choosing what image is used on each of the eight yearly magazines. Rob, although not a cyclist per se, is passionate about design and works closely with a team of photographers that are dotted around the globe to curate both covers and images to accompany editorial.
When asked how the curation of images comes about, Rob explains that a lot centres around the brief, with many photographers submitting photos to the team on the off chance they can use them for future articles. Always looking for new angles both visually and copy-wise, Rob was very excited to announce the latest article would feature Valverde being interviewed by a Spanish bullfighter.
Rob explains that is often the more obscure images that catch both his and the photographer's eye. This was definitely the case, when a worn photograph of Marco Pantani, seen peeling off the side of a window in Italy became one of Rouleur's most memorable covers. Even with a vast array of editions to choose from, it is no wonder Rob has picked this as his favourite.
The Executive Editor
Last but by no means least we sat down with the executive editor, Ian Cleverly. Although entering the world of journalism rather late, the former cycle courier used his experience working for Cycling Weekly to good effect. Picking up as much information as he did insider tips. Interviewing many of cycling's biggest names since joining the team, Ian recounts an honest, rain-sodden meeting with none other than Mrs Cath Wiggins on the final stage of a very wet Tour of Britain as one of his favourites. An edition which would see her husband be crowned victor of the 2013 race, this honest and engaging encounter has stuck in Ian's mind.
Barring BMX, Ian has raced pretty much every cycling discipline, saying cyclocross is his personal favourite and one which he wished he'd found earlier in his cycling journey. An Eastway cycle circuit regular, Ian is a self confessed technophobe, preferring to ride without a computer or any other gadgets on his handlebar. Overseeing both the print and online side of the magazine Ian is also a regular Rouleur Classic attendee and with the 2018 edition of the show taking on a world championships theme, we can see why Mr Cleverley is a fan. With a guest list that includes stars including Paolo Bettini and Eddy Merckx, this premium event is no ordinary bike show. Find out more about the 2018 Rouleur Classic here.
A clear favourite race for both Andy and Ian when asked was Paris Roubaix. A classic which saw the Rouleur office head over mob handed last year, Ian picks the cover from the 18.2 issue as his favourite. A photo by Pauline Ballet captures the chaos that follows the Hell of the North but contrasts it with the expansive sky, which dominates the shot.
Ian's passion for the cobbled classic is evident as he recounts spending a day in the Europcar Team Car and was entrusted with a set of wheels. Dropped off on the side of a pave sector, Ian explains he stood nervously waiting for the riders to rumble past, hoping his services would not be required.
The Making of Rouleur
Not just an online and print publication, Rouleur have also been the host for a special event each year, that brings some of cycling's biggest names, both from the past and the present to London. The Rouleur Classic, now in its fourth year, celebrates the world championships this year, welcoming stars such as Eddy Merckx and Sir Bradley Wiggins into Victoria House for the 2018 edition of this unmissable cycling event.