“You must have the will, you must have Paris-Roubaix in your head…”
- Jean-Marie Leblanc
As August begins to catch its stride, the crew at Masterlink Films prepares to release its documentary, Road to Roubaix. If you caught the film at one of the Bicycle Film Festivals, then you are one of the lucky to witness Roubaix and all its glory on the big screen. Back in the 70s, A Sunday in Hell debuted in the same fashion, and like its predecessor, Road to Roubaix takes an in-depth look above and beyond the race itself, highlighting the people and the landscape that gives L’Enfur Du Nord its mystique. Masterlink Films steps behind the façade of the race and digs in deep, interviewing riders and capturing the essence of the event through pre- and post-race moments.
Although Masterlink Films is new to the cycling film genre, they have chosen to partner with some heavy hitters. Road to Roubaix is comprised of three distinct components: Footage from the 2007 Paris-Roubaix, Discovery Channel’s spring camp in Solvang, CA, and post-race interviews shot in London. Each segment is beautifully captured through the eyes of the Masterlink Film team. Artfully edited to create an authentic and compelling account of what Roubiax means to cycling and the world at large. The film captures the modern day Roubaix while black-and-white photos expose the history of the race; each component masterfully sewn together with poignant narratives. I recognize stills from my favorite book Paris Roubaix: A Journey Through Hell, as well as some from Rouleur’s powerhouse photo talent, Camille Mc Millan and Tim Kölln. The sum of these elements paints the beauty of Roubaix in vivid reality and delivers the sting of the cobbles and the taste of the nervous energy mixed with historically rich French sand. Paris-Roubaix is without question the star of this film, not the well-paid PROs.
The content of this film is deep, and if you (like BKW) are drawn to behind-the-scenes footage, this film should be on your to-do list. The perspective is not from an individual team or rider, but the event itself. One thing is very clear right from the start: the filmmakers and the individuals interviewed have a very healthy respect for the Queen of the Classics; at times, the level of respect displayed makes the hairs on your arms stand up. The raw emotion of those who love Roubaix is endless and it's conveyed with a succinct clarity that, at times, you'll shake your head in agreement and, others, you'll be reaching for the phone to call everyone who has ever bared witness to your stumbling explaination of Roubaix's power.
There are a few standout moments of this film, moments that I found myself repeatedly returning to watch. One is former Clash road manager and cycling fanatic, Johnny Green, who's passion is both enlightening and highly contagious.
Ask any Australian cycling fan to comment on O'Grady's win and it becomes obvious that Stuart's performance in 2007 went well beyond another CSC win. O'Grady ground himself into the record books as the first Aussie to capture the title and, for those who have enjoyed watching his career unfold, Paris Roubaix was the ultimate win for a rider who has put in the effort year after year. Masterlink Films captures this historical moment in PROfessional cycling with a vividness previously not seen.
Road to Roubaix continues to make the rounds in select theaters and hits the Boulder Theater on August 13, 2008.
Put your name on the list and pre-order Road to Roubaix. There’s eight months to go before the 2009 Roubaix and Masterlink has created the ultimate tool for those who are suffering from Classics withdrawal or who are planning ahead for the countless trainer hours.