“The Tour: the legend of the race” production was launched in the spring of 2012 with one goal in mind: to deliver the film in May 2013 and be ready to air it in June of the same year for the 100th anniversary of the Tour de France. This anniversary not only helped us to promote the project but it also considerably shortened the production time: we had only one year to produce, finance and sell the film. It’s a 2 hour-documentary with 100% colourised archive footage and sports footage is very expensive. Nevertheless, we took a gamble and went for the international market knowing full well that this meant doubling our stakes in terms of archive rights. The task was not an easy one. ASO —body in charge of Tour de France organisation — imposed that we propose the film first and foremost to the official Tour de France broadcasters worldwide. As the film would be ready only one month before the anniversary it was paramount to convince the potential buyers before even being able to show them any images. Obviously doping issues were a problem for some broad-
casters, and we turned to sports networks though these are channels we are not used to approaching. Jean-Christophe Rosé has made a unique film with a powerful narration. This work has been recognized gaining the interest, the trust and the appreciation of 30-odd buyers. We are an independent production company. Distribution has been an integral part of the Company’s activity for close to ten years now. Our goal is to offer the films the necessary financing to match their ambition and to insure that they have the best visibility possible. With “The Tour: the legend of the race”, we met this challenge. Yasmine Benkiran
Head of sales and International development
« There is some marvelous colourised footage of many of the early races. » Daily Telegraph, Sydney, 28 Jun 2013
« From 1903 to nowadays, the documentary is full of exciting stories. » 20minutos, Spain, 26 Jun 2013
« The choice of documents is accurate, striking and beautiful. » Nouvel Obs, France, 26 Jun 2013
SYNOPSIS THE TOUR:
THE LEGEND OF THE RACE The history of the Tour, as you have never seen it before. “The Tour - the legend of the race” sheds a new light on the last 100 years of the Tour de France, now considered one of the world’s most popular sporting events. The Tour has lived through a century of rich history, with ups and downs, triumphs and scandals, continually evolving with the times. Throughout it all, one key characteristic has been the incredible power of Identification the public has with the Tour cyclists, mythical figures that seem accessible and inaccessible at the same time. In order to reflect this human dimension of the Tour, the film tells its story through a selection of its emblematic heroes. Emblematic of the Tour, but also emblematic of an era, embodying in the film their generation: Coppi, Bobet, Anquetil, Poulidor, Merckx, Hinault, Indurain, Armstrong... Fully archive-based and colourised, “The Tour” cleverly weaves together all these individual stories with the story of the Tour de France itself, creating a timeless and epic sports saga.
« A narration without complacency. » La libre Belgique, Belgium, 22 jun 2013
>> WATCH THE TRAILER Please click on this image to launch the video >>
«Our message is to say we can love the Tour de France but let’s not be fooled» Benoît Heimermann
Interview with Benoît Heimermann (Co-Writer) What is the essence or spirit of the Tour De France that makes it such a special sporting event? Benoît Heimermann: Firstly, what makes the Tour de France very special overall is that contrary to other sports, which for example take place in big stadiums; it takes place in the French countryside. Another factor people sometimes forget to underline is that the Tour de France always takes place during Europe’s summer holidays. This enables people from different countries in Europe and the world to travel to France and watch the Tour particularly in the south of the country. What is the significance of nicknames given to riders who compete in the Tour de France? Nicknames have always existed from the very beginning and were very important because people had a hard time remembering and identifying riders just by their family names. Why makes the Tour de France’s mountain stages, such as the Col du Galibier, so special? There is definitely a mystery that surrounds racing in the mountains. The mountain stages were in-
troduced in 1906 and even 50-years on it was a total mystery despite journalists talking and writing about the epic battles of endurance that took place. That’s why I think the Tour de France has always been surrounded by superlative adjectives when people talk about the race. Even today the mystery is still there because the riders have to fight against the elements and fight against the mountains. In your opinion, who is the greatest winner of the Tour de France? I have a hard time deciding between Fausto Coppi and Eddy Merckx. Merckx won everything and was invincible, but Coppi was a fantastic and brave rider. In your opinion what is the biggest evolution/ change the Tour has seen over the years? This is an interesting aspect and is one of the reasons we decided to make this movie. Compared to sports such as boxing and football there are not as many elements that have changed when compared to the Tour de France. Whether it has been technically, technologically or scientifically, there has been a big evolution in cycling and the Tour de France. Another interesting aspect is that because the Tour de France races through the whole country, it really echoes the evolution
« The boss» Seven time winner of the Tour, deposed 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004,2005)
«Master Jacques» Five time winner of the Tour (1957, 1961, 1962, 1963,1964)
«The wire» Winner of the Tour 1923
«The Campionissimo» Double winner of The Tour (1949,1952)
and mentality of France. As a whole it resonates with the way things and society have evolved. There are many examples of this given in the documentary where you can see the evolution at least commercially during the 1980’s and the arrival of money followed by globalisation. There seems to be a special relationship between the media and the Tour de France from the beginning to the present day, what are your thoughts on this? All sports have evolved and changed with the arrival of TV, but the Tour de France is really a pioneer. In the beginning a newspaper (L’Auto) started the race because it had a hard time selling papers. The owner thought by starting the competition it would help sell copies and it did. So from the very beginning the relationship between the media and the Tour de France has been important and essential. What was the reaction of Tour organisers when they viewed the documentary? For the first screening we were a little apprehensive to show the Tour de France organisers. They thought it wasn’t too bad, but they thought we talked too much about doping. From our point of view we could not avoid talking about doping. For the past 15-years this has been a part of the sport and there has been so much talk about doping. At the present time there are nine or 10 races without a winner due to doping.
«The Alien» Five time winner of the Tour (1991, 1992, 1993, 1994,1995)
«The Cannibal» Five time winner of the Tour (1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1974)
The documentary reveals doping has been present on the Tour de France for many years, so it seems like the problem of doping isn’t new? Because it’s one of the most difficult races in the world and conditions are unbearable riders have had to fight against weather and their own resistance, so there has always been some form of medication taken. The area we are talking about goes up until around 1985 where there was doping, however it was to help and sustain the rider. The champion was still really a champion and had to have different qualities to win. The second area between 1985/88 was when doping was becoming more sophisticated such as EPO (blood boosting). We then started to see a rider of average quality was capable of winning the Tour de France. How much work went into telling the story of Lance Armstrong? From the very beginning we knew we had to talk about Lance Armstrong. It was impossible not to mention him. At the time Lance still had not admitted he had been cheating and the results of his trial were not yet made public. We dedicated eight minutes to Lance Armstrong, which is very long. In a way he reflects our society today. Money dominates everything so he really represents this era. His victories were at a time too, when war was declared against Iraq over a lie alleging there were weapons of mass destruction. Like governments lied about the
Iraq war Lance Armstrong has lied and fooled people. As a cycling fan how did you feel when Lance Armstrong was found to be cheating? When you love the Tour de France like I do, then naturally you are disappointed. For the past 15 years we’ve had strong shocks about cheating and we all realise we were fooled and deceived. Of course we have to remember that it’s sport and doesn’t affect our real life. But what it does is reflects what happens in countries around the world. If a politician lies and doesn’t tell the truth we’re always disappointed. That’s why sport is like a mirror and we have to look and be aware that there are many things that are going wrong.
«As a whole [ Tour de France ] resonates with the way things and society have evolved» What do you hope audiences will learn from watching your documentary? Our message is to say we can love the Tour de France but lets not be fooled. The Tour de
France audience is a passionate audience, but one that sometimes doesn’t want to see the ugly side of cycling. Can you see the Tour de France improving its image? You have to recognise something it’s a white sport there is not one black rider. The TDF is ageing now. Young people in France are very resistant to the Tour de France. The TDF has to open up and admit that they have to make their own revolution and open up a bit and not sleep on their glorious past. Can you see the Tour de France developing into a more modern thinking event? There are positives for the future and there are two directions that it is moving in. The first is the new interest from abroad and it’s proven by the riders who compete in the Tour from places such as the UK, Australia and even South America. This interest will only be effective though if the Tour de France accepts and is aware that doping is a very important issue. There are now young riders that want to be known as clean. They want to compete in a very clean way and also understand that they can win without resorting to doping. On doping, we have to be more optimistic than what we used to be six or seven years ago about the question.