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1 of 6 Days London Six Day london at lee valley velopark

Stepping into the 'Olympic Velodrome' in London you can't help but be grabbed by a unique atmosphere, the recent history of iconic British victories, the vicinity of high speed action surrounded by a lively & loud crowd, the flashing disco lights and booming dance music.

Six day racing has a rich history wrapped in tradition & legend and whilst newly revived in the UK has been popular throughout Europe for over a century. Over six days riders compete as pairs & individuals over a variety of disciplines, from simple basic sprints to mind boggling one hour Maddisons, raced in pairs, with intermediate sprints and points of 'lapping' opponents. All accompanied by disco lighting, a live DJ and screaming fans!

From a spectator's view the Lee Valley VeloPark is an ideal venue, seating surrounds the track and you can walk all around, getting very very close to the riders as they travel at speeds in excess of 70kph. The view is incredible, wherever you're sitting and even when queuing for refreshments you can watch the races. The music and lighting maintain the atmosphere throughout and riders are fully aware this is entertainment, cranking up the atmosphere, encouraging the crowd to make noise and get behind the riders

Photographically shooting this event is probably one of the most challenging projects, high speed and very dark, changing, multi-coloured lighting means high (6400!) ISO and focus struggling to grab the subject.

Opportunities for panning abound and the shape of the velodrome offers all sorts of creative viewpoints. The large groups of fast moving riders means the photographer really needs to concentrate on a subject and avoid distractions. Carefully watching how the shape of the groups change as they rotate around the track and the effect the lighting has offers some really dynamic images. Shooting wider can illustrate the speed of the groups and how close they're riding together. Zooming in or isolating a rider is all about picking the spot to press the shutter, using elements within the frame or avoiding eye catching & distracting elements.

The sprints & intermediate sprints see the riders go all out for victory, just centimetres apart.

Competing in pairs there is a huge element of tactical racing, scoring points at advantageous moments and holding back for the right moment to attack.

The Maddison race involves pairs relaying by 'throwing' each other into the battle. The 'throw' is a real skill, executed at 50kph and in the middle of 32 riders.

It also offers a fleeting moment to share tactics, give encouragement or pass information between team mates.

The specialist sprinters race individually over much shorter distances, their races are pure power and they create quite a show.

They work up the crowd, building the atmosphere prior to their big efforts.

Before giving it everything

to celebrate victory

and share their victory with their fans

The dernie races are a curious sight as riders are paced behind motorised bikes, dernies, who increase speed throughout the race upon command from their rider. By taking advantage of the aerodynamic slip-stream riders build to speeds close to 80kph.

Mark Cavendish sporting luminous glasses
Katie Archibald taking the victory
and celebrating with a partisan crowd!
Even the stewards had their favourites

Adam Winfield is a leading commercial photographer based in Lincoln, UK and a qualified teacher, leading a range of PhotoWalks, courses & photographic events. Find out more at through-the-lens.co.uk If you've enjoyed this story please click "appreciate" below, thank you.

All photos copyright Adam Winfield 2017. Camera; Canon 5D MKIII Lens; Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di VC PZD

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Adam Winfield
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