For three weeks in July, 2004, the Old Truman Brewery, on London’s Brick Lane, hosted the Kings of Pain exhibition, a collection of photography and memorabilia devoted to six iconic riders.

‘Kings of Pain’ are riders who epitomize the glory, suffering, drama and style of road racing. The stories and images of their exploits have come to define the sport. The original Kings of Pain are Fausto Coppi, Jacques Anquetil, Raymond Poulidor, Eddy Merckx, Tom Simpson and Bernard Hinault. The hallmarks displayed here have been created in their honour.

Les Forçats de la Route

The Parisian racer Henri Pélissier chose to abandon the world’s grandest stage race in 1924 in protest at an official who forbade him from wearing two jerseys in an attempt to keep warm. Pélissier’s complaints were published in Le Petit Parisien, under the headline, ‘Les Forçats de la Route’ (The Convicts of the Road).

Blood, Sweat, Tears, and Mud

The history of road racing is one not solely preoccupied with victory – just as prominent are the tales of valiant struggle and tragic loss. This hallmark attests to the effort required to fight when the chance of victory is nil, to push on for the sake of honour alone, and to cross the finish line smeared with blood, sweat, tears and mud.

The Crown

The first Olympians were crowned with laurel wreaths, a token of the people’s appreciation of their prowess. Throughout history, athletes and scholars have been crowned for their achievements, momentarily elevated to the status of royalty. The crown represents victory, power and honour. You can’t have a King without a crown.

The Broad Arrow

A symbol once branded on to the skin of inmates of the British penal system. The brand would forever distinguish the convict, staying with them for life, in the event of their release or escape. Whether through the scars or shadows of past injuries, or their hewn bodies and branded clothing, cyclists are indelibly marked by their pursuit.

Kings of Pain Collection

Share your Kings and Queens of Pain

We’d love to know who your Kings and Queens of Pain are, and why. Tell us via Instagram or Twitter with the tag #kingsofpain / #queensofpain.

At the end of July, we’ll select the best King and Queen nominations. Two winners will receive their choice of one full Kings of Pain collection including the special edition Jersey, Cap, Bottle Opener and Essentials Case, or another matching collection of products to the same value.

#kingsofpain on Instagram

    From the Rapha blog

  1. Kings of Pain: Sean Yates

    Words: Phil Deeker | Photography: Offside/ L'Equipe | Date:

    See The Kings of Pain » Sean Yates’ tall, slightly gaunt figure sauntered into the pub, a box of his autobiographies under his arm. Definitely not a swagger though: his…

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