Having checked into the opulent Viceroy hotel on Monday, a number of the riders took to the adjacent Yas Marina Formula 1 circuit on Tuesday morning for a final spin before the first stage of the Abu Dhabi Tour.
While the talent hit the track, the team’s mechanics wasted no time in making themselves at home in pit-lane garages usually reserved for the world’s most advanced racing cars. Gears were tweaked, saddles fractionally adjusted and tyres inflated to the perfect pressure.
All the while riders were doing lap after lap of the 5.5km track, alone and in various sized bunches, on their road and time trial bikes.
Photographer Russ Ellis was on hand to document preparations for Rouleur. For him, the empty banks of seating, normally seen packed with F1 fans, made for a powerful backdrop.
“The enormity of the circuit offered some unique opportunities for photos,” says Ellis. “With the stadium only being used by the race, I was able to get into places you’d never normally be able to.
“A security guard allowed me up near the podium, where I was able to take some shots looking down on the finishing straight, the riders dwarfed by the track conveying a very real sense of scale.”
The cyclists appear at once out of place and perfectly suited to their surroundings. Is a time trialist in the perfect tuck position such a far cry from a wind-tunnel tested F1 car, or just a different engine