Pantani & Cycling on Film

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Posted by LondonCityCycling on Friday 16th of May 2014




This week sees the release of the new film Pantani: The Accidental Death of a Cyclist. A heroic climber and gutsy racer on the bike, the Italian great was a complicated character off it. Inspired by Matt Rendell’s book, The Death of Marco Pantani, if the story translates half as well onto film then we’re in for a treat.

Drugs, earrings, bald head, bandanas and the battle between the man in the saddle and the man out of it… no doubt Pantani is a legend but devoted fans tend to view his story through rose (or should that be pink?) tinted glasses. And while there is nothing wrong with that, the reason that Matt Rendell’s book was so poignant was thanks to its ability to split the man from the myth. Hopefully the film will mix it up and give us both action and insight into the life of Il Pirata.

Sadly, at time of writing, the film seems to only be showing at the Curzon Renoir on Saturday 17th and Sunday 18th May (this weekend). Seems strange that it hasn’t got a wider release given Pantani’s cult status and the fact that it coincides with the Giro d’Italia. Let’s hope more London dates are added.

In recognition of the release of Pantani: The Accidental Death of a Cyclist, I thought it only right that I list three of my favourite cycling films to either prompt you to rewatch or point you towards some classics. Here goes.

Breaking Away
Damn you Cutters!! It won the 1978 Oscar for best Screenplay and Breaking Away is the ultimate feel-good movie - a coming of age tale of friendship, family, love and bike racing. If you’ve ever been sneered at by jocks, been told by your dad to quit your dreams, been let down by love or pretended to be Italian then this is for you. And for everyone else, too.

BMX Bandits
It’s probably been ages since Nicole Kidman last foiled a gang of bank robbers with her BMX crew but you only have to watch BMX Bandits to see how she must miss it. I don’t know what to say about this film, except that it’s brilliantly naff. Or perhaps that it’s a ‘high flying ride to adventure’, but maybe that’s just the tagline.

Vive Le Tour
Short and sweet (under 20 minutes long), this Louis Malle love letter to the Tour de France takes you deep into the craziness of the sport. Released in 1962, it’s all classic bikes, wool jerseys and delirious men on the verge of destroying themselves. The scene when a group of riders dash into a café, pushing the customers aside and ransack the place of fizzy drinks, food and beers (without paying, obviously) is worth the watch alone.


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From Swains Lane to the Epping sticks, Rapha to Condor, fashion to fitness; this is London cycling culture. And why? Because in the words of the late, great John F. Kennedy, "Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride."

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