Susanna Brown is an internationally-renowned writer and curator specialising in photography. For many years, she held curatorial roles in Britain’s national museums, firstly at the National Portrait Gallery and subsequently at the Victoria and Albert Museum. The author of seven books on photography, she regularly presents lectures around the world and has featured in numerous television broadcasts, podcasts, and radio programmes.
Let me start with a confession: I am a shambolic cyclist. My sister, in contrast, is a brilliant triathlete and I adore watching her race and photographing her triumphs. I soak up the atmosphere and cheer her on as the peloton whips past me (secretly relieved that I don’t need to break a sweat myself!). The enthusiasm of spectators and their bonds with competitors is a recurring theme in this year’s competition. In one memorable example, Ibrahim Kamara’s family surround him with euphoric smiles after his win in the Junior Men’s race at the Tour de Lunsar in Sierra Leone. In another, supporters young and old ring bells and cheer on a couple riding a tandem in a hill climb event. Both these brilliant images celebrate the diversity and inclusivity of the sport today.
While some pictures centre on the crowd, others depict a lone figure whose expression conveys the physical and psychological determination needed to win. I was particularly drawn to those which show the extremes of cycling, including a vertiginous climb in the Ötztal Alps and the infamous ‘Wall’ at the National Cyclocross Series in Falkirk. Ulrich Bartholmoes pushed himself to the limit in November to set a record at the 1,000-kilometer Across Andes event in Chile, and the image of him caked in dust, hunched, running alone with his bicycle might almost be mistaken for a picture from a war zone. In the amateur category, several pictures from a real war zone portray the bicycle as a symbol of defiance and capture the bravery of the Ukrainian people.
Countless cyclists can relate to Emily Newsom’s feelings that, “my heart belongs to the dirt, the mountains, the fields and the rocks,” and many of this year’s entries capture the breath-taking magnificence of the natural world. As sea levels rise and forests burn, we must act with urgency to tackle the climate crisis – how different our planet’s future might be if more of us abandoned cars in favour of bikes.
Here are my shortlists for The Mark Gunter Photo Awards 2022:
Lian van Leeuwin @saltlake_lian
"On stage 2 of the 2022 @MigrationGravelRace in Kenya, @teamamani ‘s @nancyakidebe dug deep to recover lost time from stage 1. Nancy had a terrible crash at km 70 that left her with a deeply bruised shoulder and a swollen eye. But she persisted, won the stage and took the overall lead for the day. It showed again that the strength and talent of East African cyclists is something to be reckoned with for the future of this sport."
Matt Grayson @mattgrayson_photo
“Winning a race at is a pretty big deal, especially when its in front of your home supporters. Ibrahim Kamara celebrates with his family after winning the Junior mens race at The Tour de Lunsar, Sierra Leone’s only multi-stage bike race. Like a lot of riders in the race, teams wear donated kit. The UAE Team Emirates jerseys having been donated by Dan Martin.”
Harry Talbot @visualsofharry
“Kevin Vermaerke punctures on Stage five of the TDF. His soigneur was stranded on the other side of the cobbles with riders and team cars still blasting through the sector. Without a chance to run across between the chaos he threw the wheel infront of a team car to an assisting fan. I shot the saga in disbelief at what I witnessed. I love this sport.”
Brett Rothmeyer @brettrothmeyer
“Curtis White is overcome with emotion. A long journey to a Cyclocross National Championship ends in the snow and mud of Hartford, CT.”
Cristian Pérez @inkdustrial
“Silvana Gomez arrives at the finish line in the last positions (Stage 3, Vuelta Colombia women). It is the day of her birthday, Her mother and some spectators sing birthday song.”
Nathan and Morleigh Schneeberger @snowymountainphotography
““I would never have touched a mountain bike if not for the Grand Prix. I’d never have realized that my heart belongs to the dirt, the mountains, the fields and the rocks. Maybe it awakened my childhood in me, a childhood spent roaming acres with my siblings like a pack of wild children.” Emily Newsom, long time road racer, participated in the inaugural Lifetime Grand Prix in 2022. Here she removes her glasses at the Chequamegon 40 after navigating a muddy section of the course.”
Nils Laengner @nils_laengner
“1050 km and 13.052 meters in climbing or in other words 49 hours and 25 minutes (victory & route record). That was Across Andes for Ulrich Bartholmoes.Across Andes is an unsupported ultracycling gravel race, which passes through the most remote places at the end of the world. Patagonia Verde is known for the famous Carretera Austral.”
Paul Brett @mrpaulbrett
“Xander Graham from Tour of Britain fame and his bidon exchange with Pascal Eenkhoorn has continued to flourish as a cyclist, winning the Scottish National CX championships in 2021, the Scottish series in 2022 and as the season reaches it’s climax, he is on the brink of potentially winning the British National CX series. I have followed Xander throughout his season, covering all his races. This shot from the National CX series in Falkirk and the infamous wall, sums up the struggles of CX.”
Lian van Leeuwen @saltlake_lian
“Larger than life — @teamamani’s team captain Sule Kangangi (leading out his teammate @sjord5an_schleck in the image) tragically lost his life after crashing at high speed during a race in Vermont in August 2022. Gaping holes are left when giant’s fall. Sule was a giant. But the memory of Sule, and the path he set out together with Team AMANI to create equal opportunities for East African cyclists has only become clearer over the last few months. It’s time to change the face of cycling.”
“The Giro Della Donna — a race through thundering eucalypts, with fog hugging their trunks and curling through the ancient ferns. The surrounding fog envelopes the background in its soft tendrils, removing unnecessary details and bringing the focus closer to the subject.I think this image encapsulates the magic of gravel cycling, and invokes the grandiosity of being alone in the outdoors. It is just you and the bike, surrounded by nature, pedalling with no destination.”
Iurii Makalis @makalisiurii
“Moment of serenity. February, it rarely snows in Odesa, Ukraine; we rode to a small wood next to the city at midnight. Calmness, no wind, silence. Pure joy. In just a week it will be all destroyed. And calmness transformed into air raids sirens.”
Iurii Makalis @makalisiurii
“Tough and brutal year. Oleg Berezovskiy, coach of Odesa cycling team, checking his phone for news in team’s workshop during total blackout in the city, after short training session. News from teammates, is always a first priority. Since the beginning of war, all around Ukraine, cyclists have transformed from both pro & amateur cyclists, into volunteers, defenders, or paramedics. And if possible – they use bikes & inform colleagues.”
Darren Athersmith @da_sportsphotos
“Two young friends of mine Sam and Tom Stephenson competed in the local The Struggle Hill Climb, Tom had a great run to finish an incredible third place thanks to brother Sam running alongside for the last 100m in his socks bellowing encouragement..”
Edoardo Frezet @cicloreporter_photos
“Vittoria Bussi, former world record holder in 1-h track cycling, trains indoor. She aims at reconquering the record in 2023 with her self-funded project Road2Record, with a new bike and a whole new team and sponsors.”
Stijn Bastens @stijn_bastens
“Lotte Kopecky and an army of photographers. The famous corner on Carrefour de l’arbre. During this years Paris Roubaix weekend, I wanted to challenge myself as a hobby photographer. I just had one image in mind – I had to and would have this image. And then all pieces fell into place. I could capture the perfect place, Lotte riding a great race in her Belgian champions jersey, that blue sky, the photographers, the spectators. It felt like heaven in hell!.”
Iurii Makalis @makalisiurii
“The bicycle is a true symbol of defiance. Empty streets, sandbags, air-raid alarms, anti tank hedgehogs – our reality now. For those who volunteer or came back from the front, cycling is a great way to relax mentally and physically. In many regions of Ukraine, bicycles have become the main means of transport.” [Dmitriy from Odesa, Ukraine in Aug].”
Mat Gilfedder @matgilfedder
“Friday night crits under lights out at Ipswich Cycle Park, on a clear moonlit night.”
“Jerry and his wife on a tandem competing in a citizen’s hill climb event. You’ll notice the crutch on the bike; it’s for Jerry’s wife, who has a disability affecting her ability to walk. Riding a bike together is an activity they can do with the tandem and one they enjoy. But, when Jerry saw a chance for his wife to compete in a race, even if that race was uphill, he jumped on it. She could have people cheer her on, ringing cowbells and giving them the enthusiasm they need to.”
Nathalie Monnier @monnier.nath
“An autumn ride improvised at the last minute, on a splendid day. The calm and the soft light at the Emosson dam were fantastic. All the conditions were there to capture this magical moment where you feel very small in this incredible nature."
Jenna Leigh @jenna7788
“In the Ötztal Alps, just across the Italy/Austria border lies this gem of a dead end climb. Cousin of the Zoncolan, the Mortirolo, and the Alto de l’Angliru, but higher than them all at 2,798m. Make it up this one last kick and you can climb even higher through a 1.7km tunnel under the glacier which emerges at the Tiefenbachferner (2,829m).”