Cycling is not one of the hardest (if not the hardest) and the most beautiful sports in the world, but it also offers great scenes and stories for films. Here are some of the best cycling movies – great films about cycling and cycling races.
A list of the best cycling movies
Please note that this post was updated on February 13, 2022. The newer cycling movies may not be included in it.
10. The Last Kilometer: A cycling documentary
- With: Davide Rebellin, Ignazio Moser, Gianni Mura, “El Diablo” Didi Senft
- Also with Francesco Moser, Cadel Evans, Gedeone Rebellin, Marco Milesi, Francoise Antonini
9. Chasing Legends (2010)
- Director: Jason Berry
- Cast: Mark Cavendish, George Hincapie, Kim Kirchen and others
The story of the 2009 Tour de France from the Team HTC Columbia’s point of view. Scenes from the tour and inside the team. Epic scenes!
Here is the trailer of the movie:
8. Les Triplettes de Belleville (2003)
7. American Flyers (1985)
- Director: John Badham
- Written By: Steve Tesich
- Cast: Kevin Costner, David Grant, Rae Dawn Chong, Alexandra Paul, and Janice Rule.
In this 1985 classic cycling movie, Sports physician Marcus Sommers (Costner) visits his family after being away for a long time. Marcus immediately gets into a fight with his mother over the way she handled the death of his father from a cerebral aneurysm.
Marcus asks his brother David (Grant) to come back to Madison with him to spend time together. He also persuades him to train with him for a three-day bicycle race across the Rocky Mountains, known as “The Hell of the West”.
The 7-Eleven team that is featured in the movie was a real-life team that competed in the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia in the 1980s.
Much of the race action was filmed at the Coors Classic (1980-1988). Sponsored by the Coors Brewing Company, it is a now-defunct stage race that was one of the world’s leading cycling events at the time of the film. Two stages in the film’s featured race, the Morgul-Bismarck circuit race in Boulder and the “Tour of the Moon” at Colorado National Monument, were legendary Coors Classic stages.
The great Eddy Merckx also makes a brief appearance, starting stage 1. The character, Barry “The Cannibal” Muzzin, played by Luca Bercovici was based on Eddy Merckx, who was also nicknamed “The Cannibal”. Jennifer Grey made an appearance as a blind date, made hysterical by the brothers’ arguing. John Amos has a supporting role running a training facility, and Robert Townsend has a minor role as a rival teammate.
ShaverSport, the company that sponsors Marcus and David in The Hell of the West, was an actual company. It was formed in 1980 by competitive cyclist Bob Shaver with its mission being to produce quality cycling wear. ShaverSport was asked by Warner Brothers to design the clothing for the film. During its existence, the company produced not only cycling gear, but ShaverSport and Hell of the West replica jerseys that were featured in the film.
Marcus and David are seen riding 1985 Specialized Allez SE road bikes with red frames in the race scenes and most of the movie.
6. Slaying the Badger (2018)
American Greg Lemond helped teammate Bernard Hinault, The Badger, win the Tour de France 1985 as teammates. In 1986, it was supposed to be LeMond’s turn, but would it be?
As part of ESPN’s 30 for 30 series of documentaries, Slaying the Badger is based on Richard Moore’s book with the same name – “Slaying the Badger: the greatest ever Tour de France (1986)“.
5. The Flying Scotsman (2006)
- Director: Douglas Mackinnon
- Cast: Jonny Lee Miller (Graeme Obree), Brian Cox (The Priest), Billy Boyd (Malky), Laura Fraser (the wife of Graeme Obree)
The real story of Graeme Obree, former track world champion, and hour record holder. He was known for his unusual riding positions and for the “Old Faithful” bicycle he built which included parts from a washing machine.
4. Breaking Away (1979)
- Director: Peter Yates
- Written By: Steve Tesich
- Cast: Dennis Christopher, Dennis Quaid, Daniel Stern, Jackie Earle Haley, Barbara Barrie, Paul Dooley, and Robyn Douglass.
This award-winning all-time classic cycling movie “cycles high on the comedy” as four friends come to terms with life after high school. When top-notch cyclist Dave (Dennis Christopher) learns that the world’s bicycling champions are always Italian, he attempts to turn himself into an Italian, driving his parents (Barbara Barrie, Paul Dooley) crazy. But everything changes after he meets the Italian racing team, an encounter that ultimately leads him and his friends (Dennis Quaid, Daniel Stern, Jackie Earle Haley) to challenge the local college boys in the town’s annual bike race.
Breaking Away won the 1979 Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for Tesich, and received nominations in four other categories, including Best Picture. It also won the 1979 Golden Globe Award for Best Film (Comedy or Musical) and received nominations in three other Golden Globe categories.
As the film’s young lead, Christopher won the 1979 BAFTA Award for Most Promising Newcomer and the 1979 Young Artist Award for Best Juvenile Actor, as well as getting a Golden Globe nomination as New Star of the Year.
Breaking Away was ranked eighth on the List of America’s 100 Most Inspiring Movies compiled by the American Film Institute (AFI) in 2006.
In June 2008, AFI also announced its 10 Top 10 (the best ten films in ten classic American film genres) after polling over 1,500 people from the creative community. In that poll Breaking Away ranked as the eighth-best film in the sports genre.
3. The Greatest Show on Earth (1975)
The epic documentary about the 1974 Giro d’Italia. A film by Michael Pfleghar and Hans Gottschalk.
2. Stars and Watercarriers (1974)
- Director: Jørgen Leth
- Cast: Marino Basso, Felice Gimondi, Eddy Merckx, Ole Ritter and others
This epic film follows the 1973 Giro d’Italia and in his commentary, Leth explains the fascination exerted by the great cycle races: “The most beautiful, most pathetic images cycling can give us involve extreme performances in classic terrain…”
1973 Giro d’Italia was the 57th edition of the race, which started in Verviers, Belgium. A total of 140 riders from fourteen teams entered the 20-stage race, and amongst the favorites for the win was the great Eddy Merckx, the Italians Felice Gimondi and Giovanni Battaglin, and the little Spaniard Jose-Manuel Fuente.
In addition to focusing on the favorites, Leth also pays a considerable amount of attention to his compatriot Ole Ritter. The film also goes behind the scenes as bicycles are repaired and the cyclists rest up in their hotels.
Another “heroes” of the film are the “watercarriers“, or the lowest class of “domestiques“. Their story is the most untold one in the sport of cycling.
You can watch the full movie on YouTube:
1. A Sunday in Hell (1976) (En forårsdag i Helvede)
- Director: Jørgen Leth
- Cast: Eddy Merckx, Roger De Vlaeminck, Marc Demeyer, Freddy Maertens and others
It has been said that it’s the most beautiful movie about cycling. A Sunday in Hell (original title: En Forårsdag i Helvede) is a 1976 Danish documentary film directed by Jørgen Leth. The film is a chronology of the 1976 Paris-Roubaix from the perspective of participants, organizers, and spectators.
The film captures not just the events of the 1976 edition of Paris-Roubaix, “the queen of the classics”, but the atmosphere of a professional race.
It begins by introducing the contenders: Eddy Merckx, Roger De Vlaeminck (the previous year’s winner), Freddy Maertens, and Francesco Moser, each with their supporting riders (the domestiques or domestics), who are charged with helping their team leader win.
The film gives views of the team directors, protesters (the race is halted for a while), spectators, mechanics, and riders. As the cobbled section is entered the selection begins. Riders puncture, crash, make the wrong move – the race plays out.
By the finish in the velodrome in Roubaix, only a few are in with a chance. The winner is a surprise, but that is part of the appeal. Post-race the exhausted riders, mired in the dirt, give interviews in the velodrome’s showers. They look like men who have been to hell and back.
“You can see every bead of sweat on the cyclists and every smashed-up ankle. It really makes you never want to get on a bike again. But it is an amazing film.” – Nick Fraser, BBC commissioning editor
“Arguably the best film ever made about professional cycling” – Peter Cowie, International Film Guide.
- A broom wagon or “sweep vehicle” is a vehicle that follows a cycling road race “sweeping” up stragglers who are unable to make it to the finish within the time permitted.
- “18 of the best cycling movies about roadies” on the Bike Radar website
- “The Best Bicycling Movies of All Time” on the Bicycling Magazine website
- “Stars and Watercarriers – The 1973 Giro d’Italia” on “The Bike Comes First” website
- Breaking Away on Wikipedia
- American Flyers on Wikipedia
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