The confirmation that Netflix will stream an eight-part docu-series around this year’s Tour de France has been met with widespread approval, while the streaming platform has told VeloNews that it expects full transparency during the build-up and throughout the race, no matter the controversy involved.
The platform would not go into the specifics around editing and approval but a spokesperson informed VeloNews that generally speaking Netflix does not give previewing and editing rights on documentaries and that the creative choices are made by the producers and showrunners involved.
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AG2R-Citroën, Alpecin-Fenix, Bora-Hansgrohe, EF Education-EasyPost, Groupama-FDJ, Ineos Grenadiers, Jumbo-Visma, and Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl are the eight teams set to to participate in the inaugural series that will air in 2023.
Preliminary filming has already taken place with some teams having had visits to service courses in recent weeks.
Each team will have up to 12 weeks of filming with constant camera presence during the Tour de France. As VeloNews revealed at the start of March, during the Tour de France, each team would have two Netflix personnel embedded at all times. This provides four main points of potential coverage: team hotels, team buses, sport directors’ cars, and onboard footage and radio signal.
After the Tour is completed, Netflix will have up to four weeks of additional shooting with three personnel working with each of the eight teams. The footage would loop to the teams’ service courses and have one-on-one interviews with riders and staff from the summer.
VeloNews has already learned that UAE Team Emirates — the winner of the last two editions of the Tour de France with Tadej Pogačar — declined to be part of the project during the early stages of negotiations. Netflix is not overly concerned by the move, and in a call with VeloNews stressed that the winner of the Formula 1 season during the first “Drive to Survive” series also wasn’t present.
Netflix told VeloNews that its aim was to find teams that were willing to share their stories from the Tour de France and that negotiation started last season. The streaming platform emphasized an interest in showing everything that’s happening behind the scenes and that it was important to have full access at all times.
The element of transparency and full access is vitally important to the project. Cycling has a long and documented history when it comes to controversy, most notably doping.
Last year Bahrain-Victorious had their hotel raided by 50 plain-clothed police officers with property confiscated and riders undergoing a battery of doping controls. An investigation is ongoing, while the team has stated that no wrongdoing took place.
In 2020, Arkéa-Samsic had its riders’ rooms searched as part of a preliminary investigation that was eventually closed.
Although cycling has attempted to make strides forward in anti-doping, there are no guarantees that fresh controversy will not land in 2022.
Netflix would not go into detail about the specific clauses in the teams’ contracts, but officials added that they would have full transparency from the squads involved when it came to access.
The streaming platform added that while they had no immediate plans to launch a docu-series to follow the women’s Tour de France, it is an idea that they would consider for future years.