Essential viewing: 8 greatest cycling documentaries ever made

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Source: Anthony Cramp (Flickr Creative Commons)

“It never gets easier, you just go faster”

-Greg Lemond

With the Tour de France rolling into town this weekend, there are few better times to put together a list of  essential cycling documentaries to watch.

With the help of the SportPursuit community and some of our cycling-mad members of staff, we’ve separated the wheat from the chaff and put together our list of 8 greatest cycling documentaries ever made.  From the Tour de France and Tour of Italy to Race Across America,  this list brings you the best cycling docs of all time featuring footage from some of the greatest cycling races in the world.

Have a favourite of your own to add?  Let us know in the comments at the bottom of the page.

1. Hell on Wheels (aka Höllentour) (2004)

This highly recommended German documentary follows Team Telekom riders Erik Zabel and Rolf Aldag during the 100th anniversary Tour de France in 2003. The many exciting ups and downs of the riders during the different stages are mixed in with a rare peek into what takes place before and after the Tour.

2. Overcoming (2005)

An interesting insight into the world of professional cycling featuring Danish former pro cyclist and Tour de France winner Bjarne Riis. This documentary follows Riis and Danish Team CSC on their journey to winning the Tour De France. An enthralling documentary that showcases the powerful group dynamics of Team CSC alongside the inevitable setbacks, challenges and injuries.

3. Road to Roubaix (2008)

A glimpse into one of the world’s most prestigious one-day cycling races in the world, Paris-Roubaix. With its mixture of TV footage, historical photographs and race commentary, Road to Roubaix captures the magnitude of the gruelling 250km race as well as the intensity and passion of both the riders and the spectators.

4. Chasing Legends (2010)

Another excellent Tour de France doc, this time following the progress of Team Columbia-HTC during the 2009 Tour. Described as “Pure visual adrenaline” by Cycle Sport, if you’re looking for some motivation and inspiration, this definitely fits the bill.

5. Bicycle Dreams (2009)

Directed by Stephan Auerbach, Bicycle Dreams is an inspiring and moving documentary about the 3,000 mile cross country bike race, Race Across America. Both tragic (one of the racers dies from an unfortunate collision with a truck) and triumphant, Bicycle Dreams is an authentic, emotional story with stunning scenery that will leave a lasting impression.

6. Ride the Divide (2010)

Ride the Divide is a fine mix of breathtaking scenery and unforced storytelling with no forced dramatics. The documentary follows a group of mountain bikers and their adventurous attempt to race over 2700 miles along the Rocky Mountains spanning from Canada to Mexico.

7. The Stars and the Water Carriers (aka Stjernerne og vandbærerne) (1974)

A much loved classic, this documentary follows the 1973 Giro d’Italia (Tour of Italy) giving a great insight into the different stages of the race, as well as the roles and goals of the different race riders. Legendary pro-cyclist Eddie Merckx is heavily featured alongside his greatest competitors. Expect spectacular ‘vintage’ footage combined with an exploration of road cycling psychology.

8. Vive le Tour (1962)

At only 18 minutes, this short and sweet French documentary covering the 1962 Tour de France is essential classic for any cycling lover, made by Louis Malle, a true lover of the sport. Its areas of focus include food provisions for racers, injury treatment and doping.

And a bonus: Slaying the Badger

Before Lance Armstrong, there was Greg LeMond, who is now the first and only American to win the Tour de France. In this engrossing documentary, based on the book by the same name, LeMond looks back at the pivotal 1986 Tour, and his increasingly vicious rivalry with friend, teammate and mentor Bernard Hinault.

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