When Netflix lands on a major sporting event with its cameras, the stakes go far beyond that of a simple documentary. Evidenced by the upheaval of the world of Formula 1 brought in 2019 by the docu-series Drive to survive.
Last year, the announcement of a docu-series in preparation on the Tour de France had thus left no amateur indifferent. An unprecedented dive into eight episodes, according to the broadcaster, behind the scenes of the biggest cycling race in the world. On viewing the first episodes, it is clear that the promise is kept.
The series thus gives an important place to sports directors. We observe them making their selection before the big start, giving orders to the runners via the earpieces, or asking an injured runner who wishes to give up to persevere… The camera also lingers on the “servants”, those who take the start to put yourself at the service of a leader, making cycling a real collective sport.
An exceptional mano a mano
However, Netflix only had access to 8 teams out of 22. A constraint that prompted it not to tell the race from start to finish, but to focus each episode on a team or even a runner, to tell a touching, exciting, but often secondary story. A bias that finds its limits when we are made to follow the adventures of a stage for a long time, without ever showing the winner.
On the contrary, the device takes on its full meaning when an Alpine final offers a mano a mano between two French teams, and each is followed by cameras… And fortunately for Netflix, there are, among the teams which accepted the cameras, the Jumbo -Visma who largely animated this 2022 edition before winning it with Jonas Vingegaard. The documentary will therefore interest the enthusiast or the curious, with the downside that this somewhat choppy construction does not quite manage to embrace the true epic of the Tour de France.
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