During the Tour de France, eight teams are continuously followed by a film crew for a Netflix documentary which will be released next year. Cycling hopes popular impact with eight-part series Drive to survive copy Formula 1.
Ralph Denk laughs when asked if his riders find it a problem that they are followed by a camera 24 hours a day during the Tour. “They also have an interest in this documentary being a success,” says the owner and team leader of BORA-hansgrohe in a conversation with NU.nl. “Because it could get them a higher salary in two or three years.”
Denk didn’t hesitate for a moment when he was asked to play an important role with his team in the first Netflix series on the Tour. The German knows enough people in Formula 1 to know what such a documentary can bring to a sport.
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Drive to survive, which is produced by the same company as the Tour series, has been providing a behind-the-scenes look at F1 since 2019. Three years later, everyone in motorsport’s premier class agrees it’s all about of unprecedented success. “Drive to survive had an incredible effect on our sport,” Formula 1 boss Stefano Domenicali said in March. “It brought us a lot of new fans, especially in the United States.”
A similar boost would be welcome for cycling. “We see this documentary as a great opportunity,” says Denk. “Not just for our team, but for the sport in general. If we get 50% of the success of Drive to survive can achieve is already a fantastic result.
De Tour-serie in het kort
- 8 van de 22 ploegen werken mee aan de serie: Jumbo-Visma, AG2R, Alpecin-Fenix, BORA-hansgrohe, EF Education-EasyPost, Groupama-FDJ, INEOS Grenadiers, en Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl.
- UAE Team Emirates, de ploeg van titelverdediger Tadej Pogacar, sloeg het aanbod om mee te werken af. “Soms kan het gevaarlijk zijn om iets nieuws te introduceren”, zei directeur Andrea Agostini tegen VeloNews.
- De serie wordt geproduceerd door Quadbox, een samenwerking tussen het Franse productiebedrijf Quad en Box To Box Films, de producent van Drive to Survive.
- De serie zal bestaan uit acht afleveringen van 45 minuten en zal worden uitgebracht in de eerst helft van 2023.
Jumbo-Visma has two film crews around it
Filming for the series began a few months ago. Three to four people are presented per team. These riders or staff members were visited at home before the Tour and followed closely during training camps and preparation races. During the Tour de France, the cameramen full access: they can come everywhere and be with everything.
“So far they’ve been very respectful and not pushy at all,” says EF Education EasyPost UK pilot Owain Doull. “Most of the time I don’t even realize they’re there. We’re used to having cameras around us.”
This certainly applies to Jumbo-Visma pilots. The Dutch team already admitted a NOS team for the documentary in 2013 Bauke’s visit and since then opens its doors almost every year during the Tour de France. This summer, the team of yellow jersey wearer Jonas Vingegaard is working on two series: the Netflix documentary and All or nothingthe Amazon series which represented Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur among others.
“Transparency. That’s why we’ve been making documentaries with the team for years,” says managing director Richard Plugge of Jumbo-Visma. “And we want to show how our sport really works. We think that Netflix, with an outside look, is able to explain cycling well to a wider group of people. And open those people’s eyes and show them how to how beautiful the sport is.” .”
Tour shares revenue with teams
Plugge also hopes the Netflix series will be the start of another – and more importantly – better – collaboration with the ASO. The Tour organizer makes a lot of money from the world’s biggest cycling race through TV rights and advertising revenue, but the teams get very little. The total prize money for this year’s Tour (2.282 million euros) is a fraction of the money ASO earns from the tour.
“The economic model of cycling is outdated,” said Belgian AG2R rider Oliver Naesen, who retired on Wednesday in the eleventh stage. “Our team boss Vincent Lavenu told me that it cost our team 150,000 euros to participate in the Tour. There is no other sport in which participants have to pay so much money to ensure the show. That could change.”
This change may have started, as the ASO shares half of the Netflix series revenue with the eight participating teams. “It’s an important signal that the ASO is willing to work with us on these types of projects and is willing to share the benefits,” said Plugge, who is also president of AIGCP, the interest group for professional cycling teams. “At least it’s better than before: 100% went one way and 0% the other way.”
But in the end, the success of the series will mainly depend on the quality of the plots. “We need some controversy here and there, some stress,” Naesen says with a smile. “I think it can be a very nice series. I really hope so, because it would be great if Netflix could do for cycling what it did for Formula 1.”
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