The best cycling films and documentaries?
We recently got talking in the shop, about what is the best cycling documentary / film we’ve seen. You’d think there’s few to choose from, but as we discussed it in more detail, we realised there are so many films that are now accessible, which once flew under the radar. Blockbuster never stocked sport specific documentaries, but now with Netflix and Amazon Prime and BBC IPlayer, the world is our oyster in being able to consume all things bike even when off the bike and the UCI season is over. This list, by definition, are recommendations we made to each other, all for different reasons: some are only 15 minutes long (short stories) some are full-blown productions from film studios, but they have one thing in common. The people sitting above two wheels. Lance watch here https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episodes/p08s1hc4/lance
Let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way. How could you even have a list if there wasn't this name on it? There are many documentaries and films that all revolve around one person. Love him or hate him (we know there are few in-between) the story of Armstrong couldn’t have been written by a movie studio.
In this latest documentary, filmed by ESPN by the director, Marina Zenovich, shows Lance reminiscing over all stages of his life that make that shocking admission seem somehow understandable. Forgivable? That's up to you to decide. But its powerful. Seeing the man himself, what haunts him, the real him...
Watch it on Amazon Prime here
This is the dramatised version of this story, based on Walsh's 2012 book Seven Deadly Sins. Available to watch on Amazon Prime Video. Directed by Stephen Frears starring Ben Foster as Armstrong and Chris O’Dowd as journalist David Walsh.
Like we said, whatever your view of Lance and his ‘Armstronging’ of the peloton, the story is fascinating and we still can’t get enough of trying to understand his mindset. Especially Mick & Ellie.
This short - It’s only 18 minutes long on YouTube is brought to us by Trinity Racing shows the man behind the name Tom Pidcock, You’ve probably heard of his name by now, especially as he has signed to be an Ineos Grenadier from 2021, but do you know the real 20 year old Tom from Leeds? This is an insight in to his life on and off the bike as we following him on his journey to the CX Worlds where he raced in the elite for the first time.
The name really splits the shop. Possibly even more than LA...but don't let that stop you.
Firstly this short 20 minute TED talk David gave last year at the University of Warwick. Talking about Creativity in Crisis amidst the creation of a legacy of excellence, David Millar's fall from grace was legendary as he became suspended for doping in 2004. Following the scandal, David was determined to become a courageous force for good within the sporting world, becoming a vocal anti-doping campaigner. David’s tremendous story offers insight into how falling the furthest can eventually help us rise to unprecedented heights.
The second of the David Millar film is Time Trial.
Watch the time trial film on BBC IPlayer here https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000mwqq/time-trial
Using pioneering filming techniques, bespoke vehicles and on-bike cameras, TIME TRIAL offers an insight rarely seen into the world of professional cycling, the only British rider to have won all of the Tour de France jerseys. We get to experience the euphoria of the race, but also the tedium in what is Millar's last encounter with the Tour de France as this was shot over his final season as a part of the Peloton.
Watch it on Netflix here https://www.netflix.com/gb/title/80168079
The Oscar, Emmy and BAFTA winning documentary is a real jewel in the crown. Starting off a cycling film it turns into something much When filmmaker Bryan Fogel sets out to uncover the truth about doping in sports, a chance meeting with a Russian scientist transforms his story from a personal experiment into a geopolitical thriller. Dirty urine, unexplained death and Olympic gold are all part of the exposure of the biggest scandal in sports history. If you haven’t seen this, it is a must watch!
The Road Uphill
Watch it on Amazon Prime Video here https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/video/detail/B01M4OPFGT/ref=atv_dp_share_cu_r
Following Leopard Trek and the Schleck Brothers, the documentary focuses on the team's participation in the 2011 Tour de France and their physical and mental preparation for the biggest cycling event in the world. Andy Schleck was awarded the as the winner of the 2010 Tour de France in February 2012, after the court of Arbitration awarded it to him, after Alberto Contador was stripped of the title. This film, focuses on the middle year and the raw talent of the brothers.
Available for free on Sky Documentaries or to rent on Amazon Prime, the Pantani is a compelling story of a tremendously exciting talent who was arguably 'abandoned by cycling' and subsequently died heartbroken. AKA the Pirate, Pantani was certainly one of the more interesting personalities of the Peloton, this documentary relives that excitement as well as the incredible fact that he achieved records after suffering such a likely career ending injury that it was doubtful he would ever walk again.
Watch here on Amazon Prime Video https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/video/detail/B07C3DZQPY/ref=atv_dp_share_cu_r
Slightly different to the rest of the list, blood road is brought to us by the Red Bull production company. Blood Road follows the journey of ultra-endurance mountain bike athlete Rebecca Rusch and her Vietnamese riding partner, Huyen Nguyen, as they pedal 1,200 miles along the infamous Ho Chi Minh Trail through the dense jungles of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. Their goal: to reach the site where Rebecca’s father, a U.S. Air Force pilot, was shot down in Laos more than 40 years earlier. During this poignant voyage of self-discovery, the women push their bodies to the limit, while learning more about the historic ‘Blood Road’ and how the Vietnam War shaped their lives in different ways.
Tour de Pharmacy
Rent it on Amazon Prime Video here https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/video/detail/B074987KWK/ref=atv_dp_share_cu_r
A mockumentary to end all mockumentaries and available to rent on Amazon Prime Video, this is cycling Spinal Tap / Naked Gun. Set in 1982, during a dark and fictitious time in cycling history, the sport’s most venerable, time-honored race was marred by the doping of virtually all of its competitors. Riddled with nefarious characters, that year’s competition was a hornet’s nest of moral depravity. Through the perspective of five riders, Tour de Pharmacy gives an inside look into the grim realities of the darkest event in a sport notoriously tainted by controversy. Starring Orlando Bloom, Jeff Goldblum, Kevin Bacon and written by the brilliant Andy Sandberg form Brooklyn nine-nine and Cuckoo, this film doesn’t take itself seriously, and we shouldn't either. In fact we should welcome it with both arms, as a film like this being made shows just how much the cycling world is now a part of modern culture!
Have you got any others we should watch? What else have we missed? Let us know in the comments below, so we can jump on one we’ve possibly not seen!