Remember our appeal in April for any road.cc users who ride time trials to put their names forward for a TV documentary on time trials? Well, Alessandro ‘Sandy’ Gourley, a fire fighter in his day job, followed that link and on Monday will star when it is screened on Eurosport on Monday alongside another amateur, Caroline Harding, plus British champion and Giro stage winner Alex Dowsett. We at road.cc have been lucky enough to have an exclusive preview, and it’s well worth watching.
Directed by Dan Edelstyn of Optomistic Productions, the documentary, called The Race of Truth, aims to get to the heart of a discipline that for historical reasons has a stature this side of the English Channel and North Sea that it simply does not possess on the Continent.
The film was commissioned by Cycling Time Trials, which has also launched a website, www.theraceoftruth.org.uk, to encourage people to take up time trialling.
The executive producers are Eurosport commentator David Harmon – whom you may have heard is missing the Tour de France as he fights depression; we at road.cc wish him all the best – and Michael Hutchinson, multiple time trial champion of both Britain and Ireland.
It focuses as much on the competitive side as it does on the morepersonal relationship with the discipline of three riders who each found their own distinct way into it, illustrating how, for example, beating a personal best on a local ‘10’ can be up there with a Grand Tour stage win.
Here’s Sandy, who belongs to the Penzance Wheelers club and is Cornish champion, talking about how he got involved with the documentary and his experience on it:
A good friend of mine sent me the link via Facebook. After reading the advert and being passionate about cycling, my interest level increased. Capturing the essence of this mercurial pursuit would be a tough challenge, and being involved would be a privilege; an opportunity that would probably fall to a more suitable candidate. Working full-time as a fire-fighter and being a father and a husband is hectic but it’s what millions do up and down the country, this is no Hello! magazine exclusive.
Within my busy life I do manage to squeeze a dedicated regime of training, which allows me compete. A way of life, which, at times, involves the whole family, and between us we are a team. With an all-too-small car and bucketloads of support I am able to race. It’s definitely a lifestyle, but it’s a lifestyle that is accessible to all, and something I wanted to share in the making of this film.
Receiving a call from Dan saying that they would like to involve me was great, but very daunting – I’ve never been filmed.
I can safely say that this experience has been extremely rewarding and fascinating. Their work was exacting and intensive in producing this beautiful film. If the subject matter was ‘Ford Fiesta,’ the film-making was certainly Ferrari Testarossa. Life is an experience that is enriched by events such as this.
Now that the film is ‘in the can’ as it were, we, us, the Penzance Wheelers, are left to plan the screening. It will be an occasion for us to get together and watch the product of Dan and [cameraman] Chris’s hard work. Black ties will be an option, but it promises to be a Penzance Wheelers gala event.
Executive producer Hutchinson, winner of aplethora of British titles at various distances and who last week successfully defended his Irish national time trial title, said: “It's no coincidence that all the British riders who've worn the Yellow Jersey in the Tour de France, from Simpson to Wiggins, started their racing careers with time trials.
"This is a timely and beautiful film about the most accessible, fascinating and personally rewarding part of cycle sport”.
Dowsett, who also retained his national title this month – his third British championship in a row – to follow up the biggest win of his career in the Stage 9 ITT in the Giro d'Italia in May, commented: “If it wasn't for the CTT’s time trial scene we have in the UK I certainly would not be able to have carved a career out of a sport I love.
“I really hope this documentary inspires the younger generation to have a go at a 10mile time trial like I did and encourages more people to simply get outside, get exercising and get on their bikes”.
Besides Sandy and Dowsett, the documentary also follows London-based graphic designer Caroline Harding of VC St Raphael /Waite Contracts /Hewitt Cycles), who said: "I very much enjoyed being part of the programme, having a camera crew following me around town and racing was quite an experience.
“I really hope that this documentary encourages more people to give time trialling a go. It doesn't need to be an expensive sport and it's incredibly rewarding to people of all abilities."
Lara Thornton who works alongside Harmon at his company, Spokesmen, added: “From the outset this was never going to be a standard sports documentary.
“We wanted to create a beautiful film about the backbone of British racing success, telling the story of TTing itself but also the people and their efforts and how champions fit racing into their daily lives.
“We are delighted with the final result and very grateful to everyone who has been part of bringing it to British Eurosport.”
The film, which lasts 30 minutes, makes its debut at 4pm on Eurosport next Monday 1 July (straight after live Stage 3 Tour de France coverage) and will be repeated at 11pm that evening and again throughout the Tour.
We can’t help thinking though that the film also perhaps helps explain some of the attraction to Dowsett for his move to Movistar – with that swimming pool, his parents’ house in Essex is much more Costa del Sol than Manchester, Team Sky’s home city; sadly, though, we can’t imagine the pool’s getting much use in this shocking summer we’re having…
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.