The Netflix series Tour de France Unchained will be released on 8 June, according to the first official trailer released on Le Tour de France’s YouTube channel.
The series was first unveiled in March 2022, when Netflix announced a partnership with A.S.O., organiser of the Tour de France, to create a documentary series based on the 2022 race.
The series is produced by Quadbox, a joint venture between Quad and Box to Box Films, the sports film producer behind Netflix’s incredibly popular Formula 1 series Drive to Survive.
Tour de France Unchained will document the trials and tribulations of eight teams at the 2022 edition of the race, including Jumbo-Visma and Jonas Vingegaard’s eventual victory.
Read our Tour de France Unchained review.
First episode focuses on Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl
The first episode of Tour de France Unchained was screened at CanneSeries, the television festival linked to Cannes Film Festival, in April 2023.
RMC reports the first episode screened at the festival focused primarily on Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl.
RMC says the episode looks at the decisions of team boss Patrick Lefevere, the non-selection of Julian Alaphilippe and Fabio Jakobsen’s success at the race following his life-threatening crash at the 2020 Tour of Poland.
Yann Le Bourbouac’h, one of the producers, explained to RMC how they “tried to work on the boundary between documentary and cinema” seeking out characters in the race.
“With Fabio, we tried to show that he had almost died two years ago and that two years later he is doing his first Tour de France and winning a stage,” Le Bourbouac’h explained.
Alongside the series following Jumbo-Visma’s overall winner Jonas Vingegaard, RMC also reports an episode will be focused around Groupama-FDJ and Thibaut Pinot.
A teaser trailer was shown during a keynote speech by the streaming service’s co-CEO Greg Peter at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on 28 February. Pinot featured in the teaser trailer, stating how “when you are French and in a French team, you’re in for a huge amount of pressure [at the Tour de France].”
Drive to Survive, but with bikes?
Drive to Survive saw interest in Formula 1 increase substantially in 2020. According to global analytics company Nielson, an average of 2.7 million 16 to 35-year-olds became interested in F1 every month in the year beginning March 2000.
Speaking to RMC, Le Bourbouac’h explained how the Tour de France series will differ from Drive to Survive.
“You have to understand that Formula 1 is a championship where you follow one race and then another. You can adjust your narrative arcs. The Tour de France does not wait for you. It’s different work, it’s different stories,” he explained.
Regardless of the differences between the two shows, if Netflix’s Tour de France series proves anywhere near as popular as Drive to Survive, there could be a massive increase in interest in the Tour de France and cycling more generally.
What is the Tour de France Netflix documentary about?
Netflix has said its Tour de France series will “follow as closely as possible all the actors of the Tour de France, from cyclists to team managers to understand the multiple stakes of a race”.
It promises to show the racing but also the ‘backstages’ of the eight teams involved, from how they prepare for the Grand Boucle’s stages to crossing the finish line.
Yann Le Moënner, director general of A.S.O., says the docuseries will show how the race poses the ‘ultimate challenge’ for its competitors through a narrative approach.
Laurent-Eric Le Lay, sports director at France Télévisions, says it will “allow everyone to experience part of the daily life of champions and teams”.
This is not dissimilar to Drive to Survive which, to a certain extent, dramatises the F1 season and provides behind-the-scenes footage fans wouldn’t usually see.
Cyclingnews has reported that 70 accreditations were issued for filming at the 2022 Tour de France for the series. Each of the eight teams involved is said to have had a dedicated film crew, while a separate crew tried to cover the broader story of the race.
Which teams are involved in the Tour de France Netflix documentary?
There are eight WorldTour teams involved in the Tour de France Netflix documentary:
- AG2R Citroën Team
- EF Education-EasyPost
- Groupama-FDJ Cycling Team
- Ineos Grenadiers
- Team Jumbo-Visma
- Team Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl
The major omission from this list is UAE Team Emirates, the team of Tadej Pogačar, who won the 2021 edition of the race and came second in 2022.
Team Jumbo-Visma’s inclusion in the documentary will provide insight into winner Jonas Vingegaard’s race. But if UAE Team Emirates and Pogačar were in the documentary we could see how the battle for first and second place played out from both sides.
One reason why UAE Team Emirates may have opted not to be in the documentary is teams were paid €50,000 to be involved, according to Cyclingnews.
Patrick Lefevere, general manager of Team Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl, described the sum as “peanuts” in Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad. UAE Team Emirates may have deemed the cash not enough to justify the disturbance of a film crew to its Tour proceedings.
What happened at the 2022 Tour de France?
The 2022 Tour de France was the 109th edition of the race. It started with an individual time trial in Copenhagen, Denmark.
The race was touted as being a battle between defending champion Tadej Pogačar and the might of Team Jumbo-Visma, which played out from the off.
Team Jumbo-Visma controlled the race in the first week before Pogačar claimed the yellow jersey with two consecutive stage wins.
When the race hit the Alps, Team Jumbo-Visma challenged Pogačar’s lead and eventually broke the young Slovenian, with Jonas Vingegaard taking the lead.
Vingegaard defended his lead through the Pyrenees and cemented it on the final individual time trial.
Wout van Aert of Team Jumbo-Visma won the points classification and, alongside the yellow jersey, Vingegaard won the king of the mountains classification. This made the 2022 edition of the race the first time one team has won all three of the Tour de France jerseys since 1969.
Geraint Thomas of Ineos Grenadiers came third, continuing his success after winning the 2022 Tour de Suisse.
The 2022 Tour de France also saw climate change protesters blocking the route during the summer heatwave, which saw temperatures hit 40˚C while the race was in progress.
A number of riders withdrew due to Covid-19, including Magnus Cort of EF Education-EasyPost, who animated the king of the mountains competition in the first week.
If the 2023 Tour de France is anywhere near as dramatic, the Netflix series should prove quite the watch as a precursor and an inside view ahead of the 2023 action.