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Lefevere confirms details on Netflix Tour de France project with preliminary filming set to start soon

'People are already coming to our service course next week to make the first recordings,' says Belgian team boss after verbal agreement is reached.

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Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl boss Patrick Lefevere has confirmed that his team are in ongoing discussions with Netflix about a Tour de France documentary, and that while the initial financial rewards are ‘peanuts’ filming will tentatively commence this month with a film crew allowed into the Belgian team’s service course.

Writing in his weekly Het Nieuwsblad column, Lefevere stated that he had reached a verbal agreement over next week’s filming.

He also claimed that UAE Team Emirates would not be part of the project. VeloNews has heard that teams that take part will only receive a small amount of money up front and that a revenue split would be setup based on the success and popularity of the series. VeloNews has reached out to UAE Team Emirates for comment.

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“Ideally, the upcoming Netflix series takes the entire cycling world to the next level. And then I hope that the contribution to the teams will increase accordingly. If not, I’ll make my own series again. And it goes to the largest bidder on the market,” Lefevere wrote in Saturday’s column.

The Telegraph broke the news about Netflix’s plans and confirmed that Tour de France organizers ASO, Netflix and a number of teams were set to take part in filming. Lefevere confirmed his team’s participation had been agreed verbally but he stressed that the financials of the deal needed to improve in the future if his squad were to be retained.

“We are one of the teams that work with them. To the extent that people are already coming to our service course next week to make the first recordings. Other teams make different choices. For example, UAE Team Emirates is not participating. And I understand why. Financially – certainly for the teams – it is peanuts. ASO first passes the cash register and then, as usual, there is little left. I have now pledged verbally, but with moderate enthusiasm and with reservations. If the fee for the teams doesn’t go up in the future, it’s not worth it.”

Lefevere went on to stress the value in a series being broadcast on a platform as popular as Netflix and the success of similar projects involving Movistar and the Formula 1 series Drive to Survive. However, the Belgian team boss was also slightly concerned by the commitment needed in order to give a film crew the access that they requested and then required. According to Lefevere the goal posts could move significantly.

“I know how it goes with such documentaries. Agreements are made in advance about who and what may be filmed, but it always comes down to the same thing: you shake hands and they want an arm. You can actually see that already: we commit to a project ‘behind the scenes during the Tour’ and next week – mid-March – they will film in our service course. No idea what that has to do with the Tour.”

“It is clear that as a sport we have to provide ‘content’ that goes further than a summary of the course. To use another marketing term, it must be storytelling. The story behind the performance, the person behind the athlete. In 2016, as a team, we made our own documentary – One Year in Blue. It contained a scene in which Marcel Kittel called the whole bus together after a lost sprint. Wilfried Peeters sent the cameras away, but I brought them in again. Because it’s part of the story. If you take out all the friction, you’re showing something that everyone knows isn’t realistic.”