December 16, 2020
This fictional cycling and doping drama focuses on a support rider – an unsung hero who sacrifices his own dreams of winning the yellow jersey
The Racer review – Tour de France takes the tablets
In 1998, a doping scandal rocked the Tour de France when a team masseur was caught with a pharmacy of banned substances in the boot of his car before the first stage in Ireland. The incident is the inspiration for this solid, workmanlike Irish drama with a strong performance from Belgian Actor Louis Talpe as Dom Chabol, a fictional Belgian cyclist looking down the barrel of retirement at 38; he just can’t imagine life beyond cycling. And like most of the peloton, he’s doping; everybody’s doing it.
Talpe looks every bit the pro cyclist, lean and light, not a pinch of fat on him. And he plays Chabol with a charisma-free dullness that’s convincing for a sportsman with tunnel vision, blocking out everything non bike-related. The details of life on the cycling circuit feel well-researched, too by director Kieron J Walsh, though his script, co-written with Ciaran Cassidy, goes heavy on exposition to explain the finer points of cycling. Chabol is a support rider, or domestique; it’s his Job get the team’s flamboyant Italian leader Tartare (Matteo Simoni) over the finish line. So when Tartare takes a wee midrace (staying on his bike) Chabol gives him a little push so that he won’t drop pace. Chabol is an unsung hero, sacrificing his own dreams of winning the yellow jersey for the greater good of the team.
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