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Meet the artist who designed Specialized's Paris-Roubaix Femmes bike
There was an uncommon energy in downtown Denain this past Saturday, as this normally quiet working class community was suddenly transformed by the arrival of the team buses before the start of the second edition of Paris-Roubaix Femmes.
Gone was the pre-race uncertainty of the inaugural edition which, although twice postponed due to Covid, was ultimately a resounding success. This year, as the ladies prepared their bikes and rolled to sign-in, there was a quiet sense of confidence, as everyone here understood that a new and long chapter in cycling was only beginning to be written.
And the cycling industry was ready to seize the moment as well, celebrating this legendary cobbled classic with new designs and innovation. Unsurprisingly, the Specialized sponsored SD Worx team attracted its fair share of attention with a distinctive new Roubaix frame known as the Grit and Grace that was both stunning and subtle.
Inspecting the new bikes as they came off the team cars was Kayla Clarot, the creative mind behind the bike. “This is actually my first Roubaix,” Clarot admitted. “But I have been dying to go and am so happy to finally be here!”
Kayla Clarot, the designer behind the Grit and Grace Roubaix frames. (Photo: James Startt)
But while she may not have seen the race in person before, Clarot was nothing short of ecstatic to take on the mission of creating a special Roubaix bike. She watched dozens of films, interviewed countless people and studied images of the race, searching for the colors and textures that would communicate the spirit of the race itself. “I really studied the event,” she said. “I watched ‘A Sunday in Hell’ (the iconic film of the 1977 race by Danish director Jørgen Leth) like four times over. It is like a work of art and it’s about cycling, and that is something I am trying to do, make something I do feel like is a work of art.”
“For me that color scheme also embodied the idea of the grit of women really fighting for space in cycling in a very patient and impressive way.”