As the Tour de France kicks into gear our July film is the fabulous documentary Clean Spirit which provides an insider look at the Argos Shimano (now Sunweb) team at the 2013 tour which launched Marcel Kittel and John Degenkolb into the public’s consciousness. The film offers an insider look at what it’s like to be on a professional cycling team at the Tour right now following the highs and lows of the team throughout the three week race but, like A Sunday in Hell, you see much more than the race. Much of being a professional cyclist involves hotel rooms, team meetings, meals and massage and Clean Spirit really gives you a feel of this life and the internal machinations of a pro cycling team.
The film however is much more that simply a behind the scenes look at a team. As anyone with a passing interest in cycling will know it has had massive issues with doping. The Argos-Shimano team was launched as a pro cycling team that strives to compete the right way – clean – and the film crew does not shy away in discussing doping with all members of the team and it provides a fascinating inside and raises all sorts of questions around what it means to be clean. For example caffeine pills and supplements are legal and the doctor hands these out, although some riders refuse to take them. There are awkward exchanges but it’s good to see the questions asked and the inner workings of a team shown and you as the viewer are left to make up your own mind. One thing for certain is that you will have a new found respect for Kittel and Degenkolb.
The camaraderie amongst the team is brilliant to see, you share in the success and failure and one of the narratives within the documentary is how the team rally around Tom Veelers who crashes after tangling with Mark Cavendish (very prescient after just watching yesterdays stage and crash between Cavendish and Sagan). It’s inspiring viewing and you cannot help but admire the dedication, commitment and sacrifice shown by the riders. Clean Spirit is a great piece of documentary film making and let’s hope that it will last the test of time and that’s it a true reflection of clean racing and a cleaned up sport. Only time will tell.
Date: Monday 17 July at 7pm
Venue: The Reliance, 76-78 North Street, Leeds, LS2 7PN
Cost: £7 in advance (tickets can be bought via the Eventbrite link opposite and ticket price includes Eventbrite fee)