Movie Review
Hell on Wheels
Hollentour in the native german

A really nice documentary following the 2003 Tour de France in the form of hardluck T-mobile uber sprinter Eric Zabel and roomate, friend and domestique Rolf Aldag. The footage and interviews are well done. As it is not a blow by blow of the tour, the director, Pepe Danquart, can focus on the scenery and the superhuman feats and suffering that make the Tour the biggest spectacle in the world.

The movie is mostly in german, with at least some french, english, spanish and dutch playing a part. Polyhglots beware, as far as I could tell the english subtitles were permanent features. The less fluent among us probably will be thankful.

My only criticism is the bordering on unlistenable eurosynth music punctuating the movie. I think it is music like this, the bizarre matching tatoos that pro cyclist roomates seem to have and the love of the mullet (see Tom Boonen, Vladimir Karpets or the voluptious horror of Laurent Brochard below), that keeps cycling inaccessable to most of the american public.

Anyway...As with all good movies, it is really a love story between two men, either Zabel and Aldag, or maybe the soigner and Zabel, or the whole T-mobile team and their temporarily lost son Ulrich.

Cycling fans will remember the 2003 tour as the only time that Armstrong looked mortal since he beat cancer, punctuated by Botrero's horrific crash, Ulrichs return to form wearing celest instead of pink, Armstrong's comeback from a small crash and a super bonk, and the arrival of Vinokorov as a tour contender. This movie glosses over the main drama and really focuses on the story of these two "everymen" and their fears, goals and inability to win a stage.

While it it is not quite up to the level of A sunday in hell, the best cycling movie ever, it certainly is a gripping documentary that should interest the non-fan and perhaps encourage Lancipoo bandwagoneers to become more interested in cycling as a whole. Netflix and Amazon have it if your local video store does not.


ph0 said...

since decades we are talking about here in Europe why "pro-cycling" isn't popular in America ? Ah, it's the music and the mullets ! thanks for the answer :-) with best wishes - ph0 (from germany and without a mullet)

Tarik Saleh said...


Glad I could help bridge the cultural divide!