At the top of Mont Ventoux hangs a huge poster with the names of all the cyclists that won Tour de France stages to the summit of this legendary “Giant of Provence”.
But which one of these winners is the greatest climber of them all? The documentary feature The King of Mont Ventoux puts five cycling heroes against each other in an unprecedented virtual race beyond the bounds of time: Belgian ‘Cannibal’ Eddy Merckx (1970), Frenchmen ‘Jeff’ Bernard (1987) and Richard ‘the Lionheart’ Virenque (2002), the Italian ‘Pirate’ Marco Pantani (2000) and Spanish climber ‘Juanma’ Gárate (2009). Starting together at the foot of the giant, they battle it out over the 21-km ascent along a winding forest road to the lunar-like summit of the ‘Bald Mountain’; a gruelling one-hour test of endurance and strength. The first to reach the summit is crowned King of Mont Ventoux. Watching the race are the five former winners. As privileged witnesses, they reminisce about the pivotal moments in their past historic victories: Bernard’s famous bike switch, Merckx’s surge of power, Pantani’s second breath, Virenque’s struggle with the heat, and Gárate’s economical style. More than anything else, though, each hopes to beat the others in this virtual race. Given cycling’s evolution, the chances of the older generation riders seem slim. Or will their talent ultimately win the day? Five kilometres from the summit, in the unforgiving moonscape of Mont Ventoux, three riders are still challenging for victory. The lead switches constantly as the race builds up to a nail-biting finish. There can be but one winner. But will winning make him the greatest climber of them all? Is the outcome really only a question of the riders’ individual talents and technical advances made in road cycling? Will this race confirm our expectation or will it open our perception beyond the realm of logic?
Director's filmography:
- Le Roi du Mont Ventoux (2013 - Feature)
Year of production:
52' et 72'
Stenola Productions