Video: Behind the scenes at the OVO Energy Tour of Britain


Rose Manley gives us an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the tension, team work and tactics powering the pro peloton in her latest documentary: ‘Stages’

Rose Manley is a documentary maker, creative director and self proclaimed ‘rent-a-gob for The Cycling Podcast Féminin’.

In her latest documentary she takes us beautifully behind the scenes of the OVO Energy Tour of Britain with cycling team Trek-Drops and captures some serious crashes and camaraderie in the process.

Here, we catch up on what inspired it all and discover what she learnt along the way...

Why did you feel this story needed to be told?
I knew I didn’t want to create something that just documented the race. I wanted to produce a film that gave a wider insight into the struggles a team goes through and how their devotion to each other helps them succeed.

As it turns out, it was a bit of a rollercoaster. The team really went through it that week – crashes, illness, fatigue – and they spent a lot of the time just trying to keep their riders in the race.

The girls in the team are all such fabulous role models, too. You only have to watch the scene with Abi Van Twisk the morning after crashing flat out. She’s all bandaged, bloody and bruised, yet still climbing on her bike again. Incredible.

What was the best thing about it?
Trek-Drops really welcomed me into their world and gave me free reign to film. I’ve worked with a lot of men’s World Tour teams and they can’t offer that kind of access. Allowing the viewers to watch as the riders go through disappointments and heartaches and genuine physical pain is still quite rare, but so powerful. I challenge anyone to watch ‘Stages’ and not be rooting for the team.

What did you learn that you didn't know before?
I learned to keep the camera rolling a little more, which worked, because the incidental moments really made the film.

One of my favourite moments happened when the soigneurs were preparing bottles at the side of the road. A young boy came up to them and Berlinda the soigneur asked him who his favourite rider was. He replied, “Hannah Payton,” and I just found that moment so touching.

In a world in which women aren’t often held up as heroes, this boy has seen Hannah compete and been inspired by her. That was something special and I wouldn’t have captured it if I was just filming what I needed.

The sense of team work and camaraderie came across really beautifully. Do you think it's the same story in the men's side of cycling?
I would say it is, but I don’t think it is expressed in the same way. Men’s cycling is a much bigger business. They get bundled back in the bus or into the podium area much quicker, so it is much rarer to see a whole team sharing a moment together.

What would you like to see happen next with regard to respect for and coverage of women's cycling?
When my partner and I set up our production company La Pédale at the beginning of this year, our main aim was to make films that focused on personalities. I really feel that brands and teams and broadcasters miss a trick in this regard.

As for the sport as a whole, I worry that it is trying more and more to follow the lead set by men’s cycling, which is mired in all sorts of problems. I think women’s cycling could be really successful and even have a much greater appeal than the men’s side, but it would need a radical approach.

What is the cycling story you would most like to tell in film?
The story of Alfonsina Strada has always intrigued me. She rode the 1924 Giro d’Italia with the men at a time when women were mocked for even riding a bike.

She set hour records that were cancelled because she rode them in an “unladylike” way, she was heckled and called the “devil in a dress”.

In the Giro, her handlebars broke and she replaced it with a broomstick and finished the race in the wind and rain and the mud.

She always persevered because, for her, the bike represented freedom. I’m trying to read a book about her in Italian, but I’ll probably be well into retirement by the time I’ve finished translating it.

They mention gin and tonic in their bidons. What do you like in yours at the end of a hard day filming?
You can’t beat a lager after a long day.

Cheers to that, Rose!

Get more from Rose here

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