Le Tour de France as you have never seen it before!
A Film by Pepe Danquart
The Greatest Cycling Champion...includes exclusive 30 min bonus film!
DVD: 192 mins - Special double box set 2 discs
SPECIAL OFFER : WAS £ 31.99... NOW ONLY £ 16.99
DVD: 355 mins
this page you will find reviews for the following Bromley Video titles:
23 Days in July
Battle of the Bikes + On yer bike
Hell on Wheels
The Brit Pack
Pantani The Pirate
The Eddy Merckx Story
The Sean Kelly Story
The Stephen Roche Story
Maestro: The Reg Harris Story
The Final Hour
Days in July - a film by Tim Sullivan
It's 1983, there's no such thing as indexed gears, there's still cables
exiting the top of the brake levers on some bikes, they're all lugged
steel and the derailleurs tend to drop vertically from the rear dropout.
And if anyone's wearing a helmet, its the old leather 'hairnet' and
almost every rider wears a casquette (which I've just discovered is
the correct name for one of those cotton caps
23 Days in July concerns the yellow jersey aspirations
of Aussie Phil Anderson, in that year's Tour de France, the year before
team-mate Robert Millar won the King of the Mountains, and two years
before Granada TV made The High Life. Anderson was Peugeot's
designated team leader for the 1983 Tour de France, and the documentary
begins with Phil off for a training ride in Belgium with mudguards
on his training bike can't quite see Valverde or Vino in mudguards
somehow. This race was a couple of years before I had any interest
or real knowledge of cycle racing, which started with the Le Tour
(doesn't everybody's) so all this was new to me and very well handled
by film maker, Tim Sullivan. There's subtle pointers to the impression
that the Tour makes on the French and subsequently the world as well
as an explanation as to how the tour works. In comparison to today's
'astronauts' on a team time trial, the 1983 equivalent looks positively
shambolic by comparison, though the average speed at the end compares
reasonably well (a good bit over 40kph). And they still rode those
lugged steel bicycles with cables coming out of the top of the brake
Phil's team leader status was cruelly usurped by Pascal Simon who
seemingly ignored protocol and left Phil standing, going on to finish
behind Millar on the stage, and take over the yellow jersey. If Phil
used any bad words, we didn't get to hear them. If, like me, this
is before your time, it's worth getting hold of this DVD to find out
what happened. Both Phil Liggett and John Wilcockson feature frequently
and the footage (which is excellent) underlines the incredible difference
between the Tour in 1983 and what we are currently watching in 2007
and the Tour was considered huge back then. Some of the music
verges on the twee, but was probably immensely contemporary at the
time (did anyone else realise that Kraftwerk's Tour de France single
was released in this year? me neither).
Rounding out the minutes on the DVD is a Phil Liggett interview with
Phil Anderson which would probably be better watched before the main
movie to put all in context, and bizarrely, but rather wonderfully,
there is television footage of Gerrie Knetemann's Amstel Gold win
in the freezing rain in 1985. The commentary is by Liggett, but after
about five minutes he says something like 'back to you in the studio'
which we don't get to hear, so there are large gaps with no commentary
and brief periods of Phil conversing with someone we cannot hear.
Adds a certain frisson to the entertainment. There's also a fine photo
16 July 2007
of the Bikes and On Yer Bike
I'll not bore you with a history of thewashingmachinepost, because
I'd like you to stay awake long enough to read the rest of this, but
the inspiration for the bizarre title of a cycling website came from
Scots hero, Graeme Obree. And things have now come full circle with
the opportunity to review this marvellous new offering from Bromley
Video on the post.
Consisting of two discs, this release has the Channel 4 documentary
Battle of the Bikes and the BBC focal point documentary
On Yer Bike on the subsequent banning of Graeme's crouching
position. Also on disc one is an interview with Doug Dailey who was
the British Coach at the time of the Obree/Boardman 'battle' in the
early nineties. I'm sure it's been said before, but it bears endless
repeating: a Scottish cyclist previously on the dole (unemployment
benefit for those not in the UK) wins the British 4,000m Pursuit at
Herne Hill after pulling his foot out the pedal within a few metres
of the start, posting a new British record in the process. Selected
for the British individual pursuit team, he then beats his nemesis
and world title holder (Boardman) in the semi-final by almost 3 seconds,
breaking the world record in the process, and goes on to beat the
'acknowledged' world's fastest man (Ermenault) in the final to become
world 4,000m champion. And breaking the world record yet again.
And prior to all this, Obree had broken Moser's world hour record
(at the second attempt in two days) six days before Boardman did the
same thing. No wonder they wanted to make a movie out of it. And if
you hadn't watched all these programmes on the telly at the time,
(or logged onto bromleyvideo.com to buy a copy of this DVD), you'd
think I was making it up. We've reviewed Graeme's autobiography on
the post and know the torment he was going through while achieving
all of the above, but it doesn't diminish the results if anything
it makes them seem even more superhuman.
Battle of the Bikes concentrates on the complete opposites
that constituted Obree's and Boardman's preparation for these events
the former running on feeling and intuition, the latter on
every scientific advantage known to cyclist kind at the time. And
the tortoise won. On Yer Bike starts with a brief reprise
of the events covered in Battle of the Bikes, but concentrates
principally on the injustice of the UCI banning Graeme's bicycle 'Old
Faithful', despite complying with every UCI regulation of the day,
and despite the UCI never having carried out any tests on the bike.
Mike Burrows may just be correct in his assumption that; a) it wasn't
Italian, and b) the crouch position was 'just plain ugly'.
Disc two has 'amateur' film of Graeme beating the British hour record
at Herne Hill in May 1993, which, ironically, spends way more time
on post race interviews than on the cycling itself (thankfully) and
footage of the RTTC 50 mile record in June 1993. And strangely, there
is some shaky video of Graeme being beaten by Colinelli in the 1995
world pursuit in Manchester (during which you could be forgiven for
thinking Colinelli wasn't actually there). The footage is gratifying,
however, because it shows Obree using the superman position that the
UCI subsequently also banned.
Lastly is a brief filmed interview with Graeme at Herne Hill discussing
the making of the feature film 'The Flying Scotsman'. This
is almost the best bit, showing that after everything that Graeme
has been through in the last decade and a bit, he's still a wonderful
human being. If you missed all this when it happened, buy it now
and if, like me you still have some of this stuff on ageing VHS, buy
this and throw the tapes out. I have. Makes me proud to be Scots and
to be thewashingmachinepost.
of the Bikes and On Yer Bike
We have here two quite different disks. The first shows two professionally-made
films made to the highest production values, one on the mid-90s rivalry
between Boardman and Obree, the second a portrait of the Scotsman.
For a snapper-up of unconsidered trifles like myself it's the odd
moments that strike Obree welding in his workshop, Boardman
arriving at the Eureka Café, the off-the-bike stuff in the
track centre, Obree's close relationship with his brother, a hundred
curious details captured by camera and microphone. The great head-to-head
at Newtonards, combined with the '50' Champs on the other disk, emphasise
the strange and unique quality of British time-trialling, especially
when set against the GP des Nations, in which both competed.
an element of the Coppi Bartali situation in their rivalry,
and it's tempting to see it as something artificially created by the
media the great calculating machine versus the force of nature
but there's little doubt that the two men really do come from
different planets. It's our good fortune that we were around to see
their close encounters, and that we can buy this record of the event.
The second disk in this two disc DVD is more variable, although always
interesting. The footage of Obree's British Hour Record at Herne Hill
an astonishing achievement on this track and the pursuit
final at Leicester (doesn't a 333-metre track look huge now?) are
good stuff, the RTTC '50' title gets going when Graeme gets off the
bike, Obree talking about a film of his life and I'd personally prefer
to hear Phil O'Connor talking about photography than about his visit
to Hamar. But because of his personality open, completely lacking
in vanity, and his astounding achievements anything involving
Obree is likely to be interesting and intriguing. As usual with Bromley,
everything is produced to the highest standards. Enjoy.
on Wheels - Le Tour de France as you have never seen it before
There may never be a better documentary about the Tour de France bicycle
race than Hell on Wheels. Directed by German filmmaker
Pepe Danquart (who won an Oscar for best live action short film in
1994), this breathtaking documentary covers all aspects of the 2003
edition of the Tour de France, and it's likely to remain the definitive
record of the event from an immediate you-are-there perspective.
Outstanding cinematography, award-winning editing, and the extreme
challenge of the Tour make this a truly unforgettable film, full of
real-life drama and fascinating competitors who bring a deeply human
dimension to cycling's annual extravaganza. This was the year that
American cycling legend Lance Armstrong won his fifth consecutive
Tour de France victory, but Danquart's film wisely avoids overemphasis
on Armstrong's dominance, focusing instead on German teammates Eric
Zabel and Rolf Aldag, whose 11-year history as Tour de France roommates
lends the film a more personal quality that gets you right inside
the Tour's physical and psychological endurance test. The July 2003
event marked the Tour's centenary celebration, and French scholar
Serge Laget provides valuable perspective on the race's cultural importance
in France, with vintage film clips to illustrate how the gruelling
2,500-kilometer Tour has evolved and stayed the same
throughout its 100-year history. Highlights are abundant (including
Armstrong's nearly devastating crash late in the race), but Hell
on Wheels goes beyond basic sports reportage to achieve the
dramatic impact of a feature film.
Danquart strikes a satisfying balance between beautiful travelogue
footage of the French countryside (including the Tour's scenic stages
in the Pyrenees mountains) and the veteran's perspective of Zabel,
whose honest assessment of his own cycling abilities makes you realize
that even great cyclists view the Tour with awe, fear, and inspiring
courage. In capturing the beauty, pain, and glory of cycling's most
daunting competition, Hell on Wheels caters to a specific
audience while retaining its universal appeal as a colourful and exhilarating
film that anyone can enjoy.
Jeff Shannon, writer
on Wheels - Le Tour de France as you have never seen it before
The ultimate road movie
I first read about Danquart's film in 2004 in the German magazine
Stern and Bromley Video have again performed a valuable service for
us British cyclists by making this superb DVD available. This is one
of the few really great films about sport. The only cycling films
that stand comparison are: A Sunday in Hell, Vive
le Tour and Claude le Louche's Pour un Maillot Jaune.
You want the Tour de France its failures, its triumphs, its
ambience, its flavour? this is it. Danquart chose the Tour's
anniversary year of 2003 to follow the T-Mobile team, in particular
Erik Zabel, the team's great sprinter, expected to challenge once
again for the Green Jersey, and Rolf Alldag, the team's great workhorse.
But their partnership is only a part of the film. All Tour life is
there. Danquart has intercut the film of the 2003 Tour deliberately
shot in a faded colour, reminiscent of hand-tinted photos with
scenes in black and white from Tours as far back as the early Twenties,
so creating that delicate sense of time lost and then recaptured.
Proust on wheels. Then there's the behind-the-scenes Tour, the army
of workers re-shaping the furniture of the Tour route, building the
Tour village now almost a city daily, making sense of
the miles of cable, making the technological circus possible; the
vast logistics, the giant caravan on the move from dawn to dusk and
through the night; the no-nonsense-don't-mess-with-me-gendarmes.
Most fascinating for many will be the riders and their helpers off
the bike: Klöden's wretchedness as he tries to continue after
his early crash, and his ultimate retirement; Alldag and Zabel in
their room, worn but optimistic; the exhausted riders sleeping fitfully
as the huge team bus makes an overnight transfer; Dieter Ruthenberg
demonstrating the masseur's art and his other vital role as confidant,
the one guy to whom you can tell everything.
But the film also follows
Ullrich in the only year when he seriously looked like threatening
Armstrong. Presumably, when the film was projected, Big Jan was still
with Telekom. He's riding for Bianchi now, but he's still Telekom's
boy, and his struggle with the American absorbs their interest as
much as the achievement of their own rider, Vinokourov, in his best-ever
There's no commentary or voice-over, just the sound of the Tour and
the people in it. Most of the dialogue Klöden, Ruthenberg,
Zabel, Alldag is in German, plus French cycling historian Serge
Laget in his native language, all with excellent, clear and legible
sub-titles. Particularly interesting, especially for coaches, is the
long section in which the team manager talks the riders through the
whole of the team-time-trial route like a rally navigator.
additional features, including more clips of the behind-the-scenes
stuff, and a very nice collection of still photographs. Direction,
photography, and editing are all masterly. It's the ultimate road
Brit Pack - A history of British riders in the Tour de France
Simon and Luke at Rapha would love this stuff, and I'd be surprised
if they didn't own a copy. We have to accept the fact that if Bromley
produced a 'French Pack' or 'Belgian Pack' or some such, they would
run to considerably more than two discs, and it's probably only us
who still refer to 'Great Britain' who would feel the need to produce
an historical record of how well we've actually done in the Tour de
France. It is largely because of cycle sport's minority interest this
side of the channel that the achievements of those who crossed the
water to take on the greats of the tour on their home territory loom
large in the British cycling psyche.
And much like Tony Hewson's 'Les Nomades du Velo Anglais' it
wasn't quite the easiest career move to make. Charlie Holland explains
during an interview from 1986 that the continental riders were fervently
hoping that he would drop out of the tour, since his successful 'unassisted'
status (he had no team or manager) threatened to show up their own,
less disadvantaged efforts.
There are endless documented entries to show how hard it was to survive
as a continental cyclist from the early days of Le Tour, but some
of the previously unseen footage (on eight millimeter film with accordant
sound) is just too marvellous for words who knew that half
of this stuff existed? All the greats are represented here including
Max Sciandri (a very welcome inclusion despite his dual nationality),
Sean Yates, Chris Boardman, Tommy Simpson (who, despite his notoriety,
I confess to having known little about, apart from his untimely end
on Mont Ventoux), Barry Hoban et al. Even the great commentators are
not neglected voice over is by Phil Liggett and notable interviewees
are Sir Jimmy Saville and duffers.
Naturally enough, and I have mentioned this on the appropriate section
of the post, a chapter of major interest is that on Robert Millar.
Excellent footage of his king of the mountains win in 1984 and, if
I haven't mentioned it before, his fourth position overall, still
to this day the highest placing by a British (read, Scottish) rider
ever in the Tour de France. To watch Robert simply ride away from
Bernard Hinault is a joy to behold. Millar's contemporary, Malcolm
Elliot gains a chapter and a bonus piece of television coverage
on the extras and we move as far forward as David Millar, currently
reviving his post drug bust career by winning the time trial in the
These two discs are a masterful piece of cycling documentary, every
bit as valid as something like l'Equipe's book celebrating
100 years of Le Tour. Whatever level of cycling knowledge or ability
you posess, if you're a British cycling fan, you need these DVDs in
your collection. Celebrate what our nation is capable of despite its
- The Pirate
Cripes Jiimbo, how do I review this one? Having reviewed the three
major books about Marco Pantani over the past year (John Wilcockson's
Velopress book, Manuela Ronchi's tome and most recently, Matt Rendell's
frighteningly accurate 'The Death of Marco Pantani'), this
DVD review came about thanks to David Bromley of Bromley Video, who
rather perceptibly pointed out that I hadn't reviewed any DVD at all,
apart from The Real Peloton and that fits into a different category,
because it's a magazine that happens to contain moving pictures.
So it seemed particularly appropriate to review Pantani
The Pirate in the light of Matt Rendell's book and its rather
disturbing revelations. and perhaps fortunately, refreshingly and
comfortingly, this DVDmakes an excellent companion to John Wilcockson's
book; one for the fan. I doubt that it makes the mark of a good reviewer
to admit to any prejudices, whether they are present or not, but as
I have written previously and recent revelations notwithstanding,
I am still a fan of Marco Pantani. It made the hairs on the back of
my neck stand to attention just to watch the toe down pedalling style
of Pantani leaving Virenque and Ullrich trailing in his wake up Alpe
d'Huez. (And if he was on something, the accusations and evidence
surrounding the latter two probably make them all equal again).
We may all be privately or publicly debating
the validity of Floyd's protestations, but let's face it, it was the
most exciting race we've all seen in years and that's what
it's all about really. Marco was the darling of the italians and probably
several other nationalities, and he obviously inspired something in
all those who knew him well or who followed his career closely. The
second part of this DVD contains lengthy interviews with directeurs
sportif, journalists, and the infamous Manuela Ronchi. The interviews
appear all to have been conducted after Marco's death in 2004, and
while it is often said that few speak ill of the dead, there is more
than just tact and decency on show here.
The surprise of the DVD to
me at any rate, is that it draws a halt at the Giro of 1998. More
than one of the interviews refer to Marco's subsequent tour win and
the events at Madonna di Campiglio but by only watching the first
part the viewer would be left bereft of this information. In context,
this is not a drastic ommission we get to see Marco at his
very best, when his highs were very high and brought on by his demonstrations
of climbing superiority. It was a real joy to watch him in the 1997
Giro cycling with Guiseppe Guerini (then with Polti and that
jersey doesn't get any better with age) and put several minutes into
pink jersey holder, Alex Zulle (remember him?). As the realisation
dawned that a stage win was less than important than the fact that
the pink jersey was now Marco's, Guerini was allowed to lead over
the line for a stage win, with Pantani quite markedly making sure
that he did not contest even the semblance of a sprint. The mark of
a true champion. Part one of this DVD will satisfy the Pantani fan
(me, me, me) and bears repeated viewing.
The incessant italian commentary
is actually a rather attractive feature the enthusiasm more
than makes up for the incomprehension, and where we need a more sober
pointer as to the action on display, the inimitable Phil Liggett is
there to take care of business as only he can. (In the second part
of the DVD it is verging on the incongruous to see Phil at the top
of a French alp, in blazing sunshine, wearing a suit. These gems are
to be treasured). This Bromley DVD is subtitled 'a moving tribute
to a unique cyclist
'. Can't argue with that. Pantani fans will
- The Pirate
The review of the brand new Bromley Video release of Pantani
The Pirate was a desired pleasure for us here at BiciRace.com.
The staff all fought over the rights to watch the DVD and write the
review, such is the popularity of the late Italian Marco Pantani.
It was a treat, indeed! It's not nearly as long as some of Bromley's
other offerings (clocking in at 145 minutes total), but then the career
of Marco Pantani was not as long either. What the DVD lacks in length,
it more than makes up for with excitement that only Pantani himself
is capable of offering.
GC Fausto Coppi Days
The DVD begins with the story of a young Pantani riding for the GC
Fausto Coppi club in his hometown of Cesenatico. There is plenty of
footage of the teenager riding while those who were close to him relive
his first glories. His parents, his first directeur sportif and other
locals in Cesenatico to all fondly recall how he flew up mountains
even then as a junior rider in the local races. One of the most touching
scenes is Pantani's father, Paolo, talking about Marco riding off
for numerous hours to discover the world from the saddle of his bicycle.
Paolo talks about Marco riding 100 kilometers away and returning at
the end of the day telling his dad that 'I went up this climb or that
' Paolo would ask: "Why did you do that?" Marco
would simply reply: "Because it's there." To hear a defining
moment in a great champion's discovery of road and bicycle is something
all of us can relate to.
Inspiration for All
Pantani was the rider that made me want to ride a bike. I can recall
the first few times I saw him in action and I thought how exciting
he made the sport of cycling look. He would race more on emotion and
bravado than with the bottom line accounting style of Lance Armstrong.
You never knew what would happen with Pantani, sometimes he would
rip the field apart and sometimes he was nowhere to be found.
There is a lot of exciting video footage of 'Il Pirata' in action
doing what he does best climbing mountains. The Bromley DVD
chapters feature the 1994 Giro d'Italia and Tour de France where the
young 24 year-old finished on the podium in both races. Amazingly
it was his first finish of la Corsa Rosa, after a 1993 abandon, and
his first participation of La Grand Boucle. The 1995 Tour where he
was victorious for the first time on Alpe d'Huez and also won the
stage to Guzet-Neige. The 1995 World Championships in Colombia where
he was narrowly edged out of second in the sprint by a raging Miguel
Indurain. The 1995 Milano-Torino where Pantani was involved in a horrific
accident that left his leg broken in two places and his career in
doubt. And his comeback year, 1997, where at the Tour he climbed to
victory in two stages (Alpe d'Huez and Morzine) and finished third
The 1997 Alpe d'Huez stage is one of my all-time favorite Pantani
victories. He made it look so easy to get into the drops and out of
the saddle to raise the tempo, sit back down for a few strokes and
then do it repeatedly until everybody is blasted. Pantani himself
talks in detail about the stage he won from Courchevel to Morzine,
involving the spine-tingling descent from Joux-Plane to the finish
The Magical Year of 1998
The Bromley DVD provides excellent coverage of the Italian's magical
year of 1998, where he joins cycling royalty by winning the Giro-Tour
double. The style that Pantani won the Tour was absolutely legendary
in one fell swoop he went for the jugular and delivered the
death blow to Jan Ulrich on the slopes of the Galibier. The gutsy
move leaves you longing for the old days (ok, eight years ago) where
GC contenders would attack with more than one climb to go.
Style and Legend
Part two of the DVD is jammed with lots of 'bonus' footage, like film
from his fan club and a review of all the jersesys worn by Pantani
in career. In an exclusive interview his final manager Manuela Ronchi
justifiably described Pantani on a bike as a "work of art".
What made the little Italian so beautiful was the way he would throw
caution to the wind. If he couldn't win with style, it wasn't worth
winning. Pantani The Pirate successfully captures
the Italian's amazing bravado for the viewers. The DVD does not go
very far into Pantani's career post 1998. There is no footage of the
1999 Giro where he was ejected or the 2000 Tour where he won his last
two races. The directors preferred to focus on the legend of 'Il Pirata',
before his downfall (after Madonna di Campiglio), the way Pantani
would like us to remember him. Nice packaging.
Franco at www.bicirace.com
13 February 2006
Eddy Merckx Story - The Greatest Cycling Champion
In 1978, Eddy Merckx finished his career at the age of 33, and I finished
college the very same year. It was 1983 before I owned a (cheap steel)
road bike and became enthused about road racing due to the exploits
of Scots grimpeur, Robert Millar (where have we heard that name before?).
I had certainly heard of Merckx, as I think almost everybody has/had,
but really had very little knowledge of why it was that I should have
So my cycle heroes started with Robert Millar, took on
a kind of diluted appeal with a deviation into mountain biking, though
Gert Jan Theunisse did sort of get a look in, and came out the other
side with Marco Pantani. Poor old Eddy never really stood a chance.
So when the opportunity came along to review this double DVD, I grasped
the opportunity with both wheels.
The wonderful part about this is
that I watched the whole two DVDs as for the first time, and it was
great. It really takes a presentation like this to put into perspective
just how much Merckx achieved over the course of his career. Just
to help me out, I wrote down as much as I could and it looks just
as implausible in pixels as it does in any other medium. As a sample
offering (and I apologise to those who followed every inch of Eddy's
career and need no reminding), Eddy won five Tours de France, including
34 stages, five Giros d'Italia, including 24 stages, one Vuelta espana,
including six stages, five Liege Bastogne Liege, three Paris-Roubaix,
seven Milan-San Remo etc, etc. Eat your heart out Lance Armstrong.
Much of the interview footage was filmed in and around Merckx's bike
factory in Belgium, but the archive footage was a revelation. I had
no idea this much film of sixties and seventies cycling existed
including Ernesto Colnago shouldering Merckx's spare hour record bike
while eddy buried himself round the Mexico velodrome. Granted some
of it leaves a bit to be desired in the quality stakes, but only in
comparison to our current age of digital and broadband 'perfection'.
The atmosphere and excitement engendered from some of these races,
would make your kneecaps crinkle.
While DVD one presents Merckx's
career from beginning to end with some really insightful modern interview
footage and commentary by Phil Liggett, DVD two deals with the friendly
'rivalry' between Merckx and Felice Gimondi, as well as an episode
of a half hour television programme, 'Champions'. Oddly enough, one
of the more pointed observations was just how frighteningly good is
the memory of almost all the cyclists featured, including Merckx.
As someone who can barely remember what he had for tea last monday,
Merckx's recollection of who was in the sprint with him, and at what
point he passed them in his fourth Milan-San Remo victory was particularly
Bromley Video are to be roundly congratulated for piecing
all this together and issuing it in such an accessible format. If
you, like me, are only vaguely aware of much of our cycling heritage,
you owe it to yourself to at least acquaint yourself with the legend
that is Eddy Merckx, and this is definitely the place to start.
I take it as a badge of honour, as a reviewer of no particular note,
to spot any particular negative aspects of the items under review,
this DVD will be no exception. A subtitle at the very start names
Ugo Derosa (he of Derosa bike fame who built Eddy's latter
career frames) as 'Hugo'. The rest is pure dead brilliant.
Eddy Merckx Story - The Greatest Cycling Champion
The Bromley Video release of Eddy Merckx: The Greatest Ever
Champion is without doubt the most in-depth cycling biography
ever made. This 192 minute, 2 DVD set, is absolutely loaded with fascinating
and amazingly clear race footage from the Cannibal's legendary career.
Interviews with Eddy himself speaking French and Italian. The subtitles
are in English, and there is narration by THE voice of cycling, Phil
The first disc in the set is a biographical account of Eddy's life
starting with childhood taking us all the way to the mid 1990's, well
into his career as a frame builder. For the hardcore cycling nut,
there is nothing better than seeing scene after scene from a by-gone
era when people attacked just because they could
There was no
waiting to the final climb or only racing the Tour! And nobody did
it better than Eddy Merckx.
One of the great sections on disc one is Eddy's account of the 1975
Tour de France. Hear him and the 1975 Tour winner, Bernard Thévenet,
tell blow by blow war stories from the famed race. There is footage
of the infamous kidney punch Merckx receives from an overzealous Frenchman
on the Puy de Dôme, and when Merckx is dropped on the stage
to Pra Loup with a vicious attack by Thévenet. If this doesn't
get you pumped to get out on your bike, nothing will!
Disc two highlights the rivalry between Merckx
and Felice Gimondi, arguably the greatest ever Italian campione. Very
in depth interviews with Merckx and Gimondi describing the fierce
rivalry, along with the immense respect and friendship between the
two. This disc will be particularly enjoyable to the multitude of
Felice Gimondi fans. Gimondi is a true sportsman and gentleman! The
psychology is fascinating: how he repeatedly was one-upped by Merckx
but he never gave into the self-doubt of being in Merckx's shadow.
And yet he looks back on his career with absolute satisfaction, and
Disc two also has some choice bonus footage at the
end from the 1974 and 1975 Tours de France, the 1977 Tour of Flanders
(where you see Freddy Maertens as World Champion in a break with Roger
De Vlaeminck and Merckx on a bike borrowed from a fan!) and a special
recording for Irish TV of Merckx's career. Absolutely fascinating
knowledge for those who came of age long after the Cannibal had hung
up his wheels, or for anybody who just plain enjoys biographical filmmaking.
It's the perfect gift for the cycling mad person.
Franco at www.bicirace.com
10 October 2005
Sean Kelly Story - An Irish Cycling Legend
If you are a fan of cycling, Sean Kelly: An Irish Cycling Legend
is a must have for your video library. "King" Kelly is a
breed of now extinct professionals that raced from February to October
competing in classics to Grand Tours and winning all along the way.
This two DVD set from Bromley Video is 220 minutes (nearly 4 hours!!)
chronicling the life and career of this amazing hard-man. It goes
into incredible detail from his humble working class roots as an Irish
farmer, to his stay with a Belgian family when he first came to race
continentally, on through to his four green jerseys in the Tour de
France. There is commentary from the early 1980's with a rather youthful
Phil Liggett, and many television interviews showcasing Kelly's off
the wall taste in 80's sweaters.
Disc one is a real treat for the
serious cycling junkie. There is so much footage from classic races
that we have all read about for so many years but either took place
before our time, or before TV coverage was what it is now (especially
for the Americans). That is what makes this video such a gold mine.
One of the highlights for me was the segment showing the finale of
the 1983 Giro di Lombardia. It's a very fast and furious chase down
to the line. The final selection contained the heavy-hitters of the
day, with the likes of Kelly, Stephen Roche, Hennie Kuiper and a rainbow
jersey clad Greg LeMond all duking it out in the sprint! Another great
moment is hearing Kelly's commentary on his legendary pursuit and
capture of Moreno Argentin in the 1992 Milan-Sanremo. He gives a blow
by blow account of his death defying descent of the Poggio, where
he leaves the chase group for dead and then mercilessly chews up and
spits out an incredulous Argentin on the Via Roma. Kelly may not have
the magnetic persona of somebody like Mario Cipollini or Marco Pantani,
but the incredible and in depth interview footage is absolutely fascinating
nonetheless. He is a very humble and soft spoken man who never blows
his own horn. The dichotomy of his ruthlessness as a bike racer and
his quiet demeanor is amazing.
Disc two is broken into several chapters
that each look in depth at his victory in the Tour of Spain, the Tour
de Suisse, the World Championships and the Nissan International Classic
(among others). But the most moving piece for me on disc two is hearing
him describe his incredible disappointment at missing out on victory
in the 1989 World Championships. He was so shattered that he couldn't
even smile when he was presented with his medal!
It's hard to imagine
that men ever raced the way that Sean Kelly did. While riding for
KAS, he would do the week of classics that included Tour de Flanders,
Gent-Wevelgem and Paris-Roubaix and then (to make the sponsors happy)
go up and do the Vuelta al Pais Vasco the very next day
They just don't make them like Sean Kelly any more.
Franco at www.bicirace.com
19 November 2005
Stephen Roche Story - A Cycling Triple Champion
I have to say that when the boss at BiciRace.com gave me the assignment
of reviewing The Stephen Roche Story I wasn't too excited. I mean
Stephen Roche was no doubt a great champion, but he didn't inspire
a lot of passion in me. For me he lacks the panache of a climber like
Marco Pantani or a crono man like Miguel Indurain. What I learned
though after watching Bromley Video's DVD is that his artistry on
the pedals more than made up for any shortcomings in riding panache.
In this DVD former British pro Tony Doyle succinctly sums it up when
he says, "It was poetry in motion watching him
He was a real
Smooth As Silk
The Stephen Roche Story consists on two DVD's (totaling
270 minutes). The first is a very intimate interview of the man where
he recounts his greatest, and some of his worst, moments. It begins
with rare footage of the 1979 Ras Tailteann in Ireland when he is
a tender 19 years-old. Even at this young age his pedaling cadence
is smooth as silk, reminiscent of Maitre Jacques Anquetil. It is immediately
evident that this man was born to turn the pedals. Disc one, with
over 10 chapters, cover the entire spectrum: From his neo-pro exploits
in the European peloton to Roche's finest hour, the 1987 season in
which he won the Giro d'Italia, the Tour de France and the World Championships.
Sprinkled in between is coverage of the 1985 Nissan Classic, 1985
Tour de France on up through his final Tour de France of 1993.
In Depth and Rare Race Coverage
The second DVD departs from the interview format and begins with a
very in depth coverage of the 1987 Tour de France voiced by Phil Liggett.
Following Liggett's excellent commentary are some critiques by a few
of Roche's contemporaries, Pedro Delgado and Laurent Fignon to name
but a few. In addition to a very thorough analysis of the 1987 Tour
de France, there is some bonus footage which covers the 1983 Worlds,
1991 and 1992 Nissan Classic and the Tour de Romandie. These are races
not often offered in cycling video catalogues and it was a real treat
to see the amazing performances by the likes of some old school hard
men Sean Kelly and Phil Anderson. As much as it covers Roche's finest
moments, the DVD set also aptly portrays Roche's human side as he
battles back from a knee injury which ultimately signaled the beginning
of the end of his career.
In watching all the race footage on this DVD and watching Roche being
interviewed it became apparent that the folks at Bromley Video have
really nailed the essence of Stephen Roche. That essence is to walk
softly and carry a big stick. Make some time to watch this two disc
DVD set, it will fuel your passion for cycling.
Double Disc and Double Knowledge, Bravo Bromley!"
Paco at www.bicirace.com
31 January 2006
- The Reg Harris Story
Every so often the regular cycling press publishes one of those '100
greatest British cyclists' articles. They're nearly all professional
roadmen. Few track riders get a look in, so they rarely include the
one rider who for two generations of Britons actually became a genuine
household name. Millions of people must have stood at the roadside
and shouted after anyone on a bike, even the paper-boy, 'Come on,
It's true that he benefited from the post-war track
racing boom (very little racing on open roads in Britain) and Britain's
need for gloom-lifting, feel-good success. But his character, personality
and courage, combined with a wish to earn his living as a professional
cyclist, had a lot to do with his being voted Sportsman of the Year
twice. Odd that the decline of track racing coincided almost exactly
with his retirement and, of course, the introduction of the
Mini. Motorised commuters became increasingly distanced from racers
and the spectators melted away.
I met Harris twice, the second time
at a cycling club dinner where we talked for an hour. He had great
charm and a very clear idea of his own talent which could in no way
be confused with vanity or arrogance. He knew exactly how good he
It's a pity that, like most of his generation, he would be known
to the public largely through printed paper and newsreels, few of
which have apparently survived. The first half of Bromley's video
includes two showings of his destruction of Van Vliet and Derksen
in the Grand Prix of Amsterdam. Bicycle collector Dennis Wright builds
up Reg's old frame, and journalist Roger St Pierre provides accurate
and lively background. Sprinting in Harris's heyday was different:
the 400-metre-plus concrete tracks demanded a different style of track
craft from that required in a 250-metre indoor velodrome. As the Amsterdam
film shows, it really was radically different. But while Bromley have
clearly done their best, there's not as much footage of Reg in action
as you'd like.
Fortunate, therefore, that Barry Davies interviewed
a 65-year-old Reg in for the BBC in 1985. Davies is rather good, Harris
is excellent, and the programme is interspersed with footage of the
fifties and colour film of Reg's amazing 1974-75 come-back, which
did cycling no end of good. It's sad that none of the cyclists on
today's roads will ever hear anyone call out, 'Who do you think you
are? Chris Hoy?' The DVD offers additional menu access to each section
of the programme. Too late for Christmas, but a great present at any
Association of British Cycling Coaches, 2005
Final Hour - Chris Boardman's quest for the World Hour Record!
It was Chris Boardman's misfortune to be born about 40 years too late.
If he'd achieved as much in the 1950s, when millions went to work
on their bikes, he really would be a household name in Britain as
well as on mainland Europe and people would shout 'Boardman' at cyclists,
as they did (still do!) shout 'Reg Harris', a bit of a joke, but also
a tribute to a man that even the professional drinker recognised as
a great man. As it is, even in a country where cycling is nowadays
not only a minor sport but a minor activity, Boardman made a terrific
impact, and even non-cyclists had an idea that here we had a world-class
athlete even if they did think it was called 'Lotus Superbike'.
The pity is that we were, apparently, unable to capitalise on his
success. But maybe it was just too late.
This superb (not too gushing a word, for once) DVD is written and
produced by the excellent Gary Imlach you know him: he's the
one on ITV's Tour coverage who can pronounce foreign words correctly.
It follows Boardman for a year or so in his build-up to the 'Athlete's
Hour Record' that is, Eddy Merckx's distance of 1974 on what
the UCI considers a 'real' bicycle. All of the footage was shot specifically
for this programme, rather than being assembled from interviews, newsreels,
and so on. There are plenty of interesting chats, discussions with
Keen and Peter Woodward, Chris with the family, and we get to see
him at the inaugural RTTC Circuit Championships at Stourport where
he parked next to me, which is what makes British time-trialling unique.
Continuing in professional racing even to a premature retirement was
doing nothing for Chris's health, but he hangs in there, and the record
attempt itself has that quality of retaining tension and suspense
even though we know that he made it by all of ten metres. Which gives
you some idea of what Merckx achieved over 25 years earlier. Absolutely
first-class stuff and worth every penny of the asking price.
Final Hour - Chris Boardman's quest for the World Hour Record!
It's not news. Chris Boardman rounded out a more than competent career
as a professional cyclist by attempting to beat Eddy Merckx's hour
record on a bicycle made with round steel tubes, drop bars and normally
spoked wheels. and he managed this in Manchester in 2000, over six
years ago. But along with the newly released Battle of the Bikes
(see review below), this makes fascinating watching.
insights into Boardman's and Obree's initial attempts at the hour
record in 1993 on wildly different bicycles are less detailed than
this 'solo' effort: this 'final' attempt at the hour involves a serious
amount of scientific preparation within the 'spirit' of the regulations.
As with Michael Hutchinson's hour attempt, the UCI are not shown in
the most favourable light, something that also takes up much of the
Obree documentary On Yer Bike. And considering the current
state of the pro tour, we really have to wonder if these officials
really have cycling's best interests at heart.
son, George, seems to have come off worst here, since his bedroom
was transformed into a hyberbaric chamber, allowing dad to train at
lower oxygen content than is normal for these parts of Britain. And
the numerous sessions at Manchester trying different wheels, frames,
bike positions show Peter Keen to be somewhat short on humour and
temper when track veterans have the audacity to encircle the track
during a session that may, or may not have been exclusively booked
for the hour preparation. Much is done using srm power cranks, and
laptop computers to ensure that Boardman's power output was in the
And it was. Despite being well up on his schedule
at half distance, he dropped behind and only just managed to surpass
Merckx's 1972 record by 10 metres. Granted, Merckx achieved his in
Mexico City at altitude, but somehow all the scientfic preparation
would have posited a greater achievement than was the case. Very easy
to say when you're sitting in a comfy armchair watching this DVD on
The DVD also includes an interview with Boardman, post record,
during which we discover that after the first half hour, the muscle
damage to the legs increases somewhat exponentially and therefore
it becomes considerably harder to maintain the power output required.
Didn't know that. And after it was all over, Chris realised Eddy hadn't
been showboating by being stretchered off after Mexico. It kind of
puts Obree's 'I'll go again tomorrow' in admirable perspective.
never having been a confirmed Boardman fan through his career, this
DVD is a fascinating watch. If you've bought the Battle of the
Bikes DVD, you really ought to grab a copy of this too. It's
not just a movie about someone going round in circles.
For us Colnago
fans, there's a brief excerpt from an interview with Ernesto at Merckx's
hour attempt in Mexico '72.