Equipe Nationale de Cyclisme d'Erythrée - 2010

« Early in the morning in Hotel Luna of Massawa, cyclists are having breakfast. They are accompanied by their coach Salomon Samson, as well as their technical assistant Hadi Barhi. We exchange glances and I ask them if they would allow me to take their portraits before they start the training.

They are all part of the national Eritrean cycling team, comprising of 25 cyclists in total. These 9 particular cyclists are following an intensive training program for one week, after which 7 of them are going to be chosen to take part in the Tour of Libya from 13th to 17th March - a journey of more than 600 kilometres. Salomon tells me that considering the topography of Eritrea (the capital Asmara is more than 2500m above the sea level where Massawa is), they are very good climbers but might find it a challenge to race in Libya due to the terrain being so flat.

They are all between 23 and 25 years of age.

Shooting takes place in a relaxed atmosphere, and everyone takes the photographic session very seriously. When the time comes for me to catch my bus to Asmara, I realise that I haven’t asked for their permission to use the images. Back in the hotel I prepare the documents they need to sign for me, and we all have lunch together. They have just finished an 80 kilometres cycle, so they eat a huge amount of pasta followed by fish. There is no amphetamine available to dope the sportsmen. I grab a cup of tea with Salomon and catch my bus to Asmara ».