In 1928 an under-resourced and untested team from New Zealand and Australia competed in what is considered to be the toughest sporting event in the world. Many considered the entry of these courageous underdogs, racing as a team of 4 against teams of 10, a joke. One French journalist called their attempt nothing short of murder. 168 riders started the more than 3,500-mile race, only 41 finished. Surprisingly this remarkable story about the achievements of these brave athletes has never been told on film, until now. Phil Keoghan - television personality, adventurer and cycling enthusiast, retraces the 1928 Tour de France route, bringing history to life. Following the original course and schedule, riding a vintage bike, Phil and his team will average 150 miles a day for 22 stages.
|Phil Keoghan and Clayton Barnett|
Being a big fan of our own Phil Keoghan and The Amazing Race I was already in the saddle for this cycling documentary, and this inspiring history lesson doesn’t disappoint.
Keoghan is a great ambassador for New Zealand, promoting it overseas and supporting his hometown of Christchurch after the devastating earthquakes. He discovered the amazing true story of Kiwi Harry Watson when he saw his book The Mile Eater six years ago. He was stunned that Harry wasn’t a household name, “if he was an All Black he’d be a legend,” says Phil.
And Phil wasn’t just going to make a documentary about Harry, he figured the best way to show how gruelling conditions were in the 1928 Tour de France was to actually re-enact it. You’d think two guys approaching fifty would be using all the modern gear like a regular MAMAL (middle aged men in lycra) right? Not our Phil. He and his team track down vintage bikes, with very questionable breaks, to take on this insane challenge.
It’s compelling stuff just getting to the starting line, once they put pedal down it’s even harder navigating their way out of the city of love’s labyrinth streets. Things move up a gear when they climb into the stunning Pyrenees mountains and you can’t help but feel their pain and exhilaration.
Phil and Ben endure setback after setback, and Le Tour breaks even the most elite professionals so to have these two amateurs persevere through is gripping stuff. Like any trip the journey is more important than the destination and each stage is filled with moments of humour, heart and dogged determination.
I actually thought with the reality TV background the visuals would let down this amazing story, but the images from D.o.P. Scott Shelley are stunning – the sweeping vistas make you want to book a cycle tour immediately. And kudos to the production team too, for the in-depth history of this forgotten hero and the jaw-dropping images of the original 1928 race.
Helmets off to Phil Keoghan, not only does he undertake a simply crazy challenge by trying to recreate the 1928 Tour De France, but he shines a light on an incredible story of a Kiwi cycling champion. An inspiring and exhilarating history lesson that should be seen by all New Zealanders.
Releases: 15th December 2016
Duration: 90 minutes
Duration: 90 minutes
Starring: Phil Keoghan, John Keoghan, Ben Cornell, Greg Peart
Director: Phil Keoghan (The Amazing Race)