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Behind-the-scenes on the 2017 RCUK 100

How we brought this year's RCUK 100 to life

After two years in the photo studio, it was time for something different. But little could prepare the RoadCyclingUK team for what we would walk into on our final location scouting recce for the 2017 RCUK 100 photo shoot.

The Printworks is a cavernous disused printing factory in south London, where millions of newspapers, including the Daily Mail, Metro and Evening Standard, were printed on a daily basis until 2012. Now the 119,200 sq ft factory – a cathedral of 20th Century industry – lies dormant.

Our ambition for this year’s RCUK 100 was to not only showcase the very best road cycling products of the year, but to take them out of their natural habitat and present them to you in a truly unique, captivating and inspiring environment.

Few words can do justice to the scale of the Printworks, formerly known as Harmsworth Quays, but it was once the largest print factory in Western Europe. Now it’s an eerie graveyard of metalwork, abandoned machinery and a maze of corridors, walkways and vast floor space. What was once a thriving factory, packed to the brim with machinery working day and night, now lays silent.

And, with that, we made the Printworks our home for two weeks within the depths of February, exploring the 12-acre site – from the simply enormous paper store, which previously held 300 paper rolls each weighing 1.6 tons, to the three-storey printing presses – to bring the 2017 RCUK 100 to life with thousands of photographs.

All told, the RCUK 100 is a six-month project, from scouring trade show halls, attending product launches and testing the latest kit to whittle down the final shortlist, to the shoot itself, and we quickly swapped frozen fingers and toes for sun-kissed roads and short sleeves as we touched down in Mallorca for part two of the production.

With nine of the latest machines in tow, we put each bike through its paces on a loop which included the iconic climb of Sa Calobra in order to shoot select video for the 100. Thanks to the Pearl Izumi for providing the clothing and Giro for supplying the Factor Techlace shoes and Cinder MIPS helmets.

If the Printworks was something out of the ordinary, then Mallorca is an island which needs no introducing to cyclists. It’s little wonder riders – us included – flood to the Mediterranean each year, with silky-smooth roads, meandering climbs and lightning-fast descents.

Now, with the 2017 RCUK 100 live, let us take you behind the scenes.

We took the photo shoot for the 2017 RCUK 100 to the Printworks, a 119,200 sq ft disused printing factory in south London, formerly known as Harmsworth Quays (Pic: Chris Johnson)
Wilier Cento10 Air
The Printworks was once Western Europe's largest print facility, printing millions of copies of the Daily Mail, Metro and Evening Standard newspapers on a daily basis. What better spot to present the hottest road cycling products of the year in their glory? (Pic: Chris Johnson)
RCUK 100 2017 - Enve SES 4.5 AR Disc wheelset
Here photographer Chris Johnson and RCUK editor George Scott review images of this year's fastest wheels (Pic: Chris Johnson)
The cavernous venue provided countless abstract industrial spaces to take our 100 product selections out of their natural environment and in front of the photographer's lens - including the former paper store, which once received more than 300 rolls of paper a day, each weighing a staggering 1.6 tonnes (Pic: Chris Johnson)
While the steel racks once stored the paper on which newspapers were printed, we chose the paper store to photograph our favourite groupsets and drivetrain components of the year (Pic: Chris Johnson)
The jewel of the crown comes in the press halls, which house four stories of huge, disused printing presses - a feat of 20th century engineering. We used the printing presses to shoot one of the 20th century's most important cycling innovations - the clipless pedal (Pic: Chris Johnson)
Harmsworth Quays, as the venue was once known, was closed in 2012 after the printing operation was relocated out of London. The once-thundering cathedral of industry is now an eerie graveyard of metalwork - but it provided the perfect backdrop for the RCUK 100 (Pic: Chris Johnson)
The underground ink store gave us the opportunity to get down and dirty (Pic: Chris Johnson)
While the photo shoot for the 2017 RCUK 100 took place in London, there was only one location on the shortlist for our video shoot - Mallorca (Pic: Ed Blomfield / @edblomfield)
Our Mallorcan route covered 65 miles and two major climbs, including the simply stunning out-and-back descent and ascent of Sa Calobra (Pic: Ed Blomfield / @edblomfield)
The serpentine road of Sa Calobra is one of the most iconic roads in cycling and once you reach the bottom of the road, officially known as the Coll del Reis, there's only one option - to turn around and head back up the climb (Pic: Ed Blomfield / @edblomfield)
A moment to relax in Mallorca's spring sunshine before heading back up the climb (Pic: Ed Blomfield / @edblomfield)
There are few roads which can match Sa Calobra for outright drama (Pic: Ed Blomfield / @edblomfield)
Our route also included the Coll de sa Batalla - a beautiful climb which rises through a gorge from the idyllic Mallorcan town of Caimari (Pic: Ed Blomfield / @edblomfield)
Mallorca is renowned as a cyclist's paradise - and for good reason. If you're yet to make a trip, start making plans... (Pic: Ed Blomfield / @edblomfield)

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Selected for The RCUK 100 2017

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