Review of the Prime Video series ‘La Course’
Solid and involved cycling documentary that offers a good insight into the first Tour de France for professional women.
The Tour de France is a household name in cycling, but until 2022 the Grand Tour was not yet on the professional women’s calendar. The organization realized that it was time to change that. The race follows the Dutch cycling team SD Worx throughout the eight eventful days and thus offers a good insight into the way the participating women approach and experience their sport.
It was only fitting that the NOS also aired the first women’s edition last summer after the ‘regular’ Tour de France. While in women’s football, for example, people sometimes laugh at the difference in level with the male professionals, there is no doubt that many male cyclists would have to take oxygen after a climbing competition with Annemiek van Vleuten, the woman who ultimately also won the first Tour.
If you The race side by side views Everything included: Jumbo-Visma equipment, another recent Prime Video cycling documentary, stands out for how quickly the sport has become professionalized. There’s nothing to indicate we’re just looking at the first women’s circuit and all four episodes offer a behind-the-scenes look that will be familiar to viewers of the Jumbo-Visma documentary: from the team leader’s car to the in-race situation, through the team bus and (in hindsight) the many hours of preparation the women put into the game.
The series follows the course of the stage race, which for a change began on the Champs-Élysées (the final stage of the men’s circuit by default) and ended with a grueling climb in the Vosges. With such an approach, the episodes risk quickly becoming glorified recaps of the footage fans of the sport also saw on TV in July, in which the riders reminisce in a way (after a while) His performance is somewhat monotonous.
Sometimes the series gets a bit bogged down in sports evaluations. Fascinating enough for cycling enthusiasts, but less so for viewers with a more general interest. Fortunately, in the months leading up to the Tour, the creators visited and followed several cyclists in their living or training environment, whose images were optimally incorporated into the edit; during different stages, the backstories of different women are central. A logical choice, but exactly what the episodes need. It makes the documentary personal and involved.
From time to time, the course even seems to be tailored for the occasion. For example, Marlen Reusser, a cyclist who normally rides relatively anonymously in service to the team, suddenly pulls off a solo victory on day four. The most stimulating are the situations in which individual ambitions collide with the interests of the team. During stage three, his team leader summons SD Worx’s oldest and most experienced woman to wait for Demi Vollering, the top Dutch talent who could win the Tour in the future. Is she satisfied with the team’s performance or does she secretly feel robbed?
When Vollering cautiously suggests after a completely lost stage that the team may have wasted too much energy on another rider’s interests, it raises the question (not for the last time) if riders always tell each other the truth. There is more ambiguity in their mutual interactions than in the sometimes flat approach of their (male) team leader. After the day of the disaster in question, he tells the women what they did wrong at least five times, while they themselves are just as devastated.
in his best moments The race thus a character study of the mutual relations between professionals and of the authoritarian relations within a team. The gender element makes character study even more interesting; sports director Danny Stam and sports director (and former elite cyclist) Anna van der Breggen sit next to each other in the car and divide the work. However, Van der Breggen seems to find it easier and more natural to communicate with the women in her supervisory position.
It is to be expected that the female branch of cycling will continue to develop in the coming years and in that sense it is The race a valuable snapshot that gives the floor to some of the best riders in the current peloton. Recommended for fans and for those who are not yet familiar with the sport: there will be another Tour next summer.
The race can be seen in first video.