Hell on Wheels is a phenomenal documentary filmed during the 2003 Tour de France. Directed by Pepe Danquart, the film focuses on Team Telekom, so there’s a lot of star power on display throughout. Zabel, Kloden, and Vinokourov all feature prominently. Lance Armstrong is also a presence through highlights from his fifth Tour victory- his near disastrous off-road excursion being one of the most memorable.
Which isn’t to imply that this film is “about” the 2003 Tour as a sporting event. It’s more about the Tour as a cultural touchstone for France and the world and as a personal battle for the riders. The drama of that particular race is glimpsed, but not lingered upon.
That said, if you’re interested at all in this most glorious sporting event, then this documentary is for you. The beauty of France, the intensity of the competition, the insane daily grind and the pain are all laid out in an honest, fascinating manner. Mixing the personal (the interviews with Zabel and Rolf Aldag are especially nice) and the public (plenty of great race footage,) Hell on Wheels is a definitive look at the Tour de France from the perspective of a professional rider.
For full disclosure’s sake, I am a bike racing nerd. YMMV.