A French filmmaker’s seek for the actual René Vietto – VeloNews.com

A French filmmaker's search for the real René Vietto – VeloNews.com

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The historical past of bicycle racing is usually instructed by the eyes of its winners. And but a lot of the game’s legend owes itself to its many losers.

In that class, René Vietto was one in all its most eloquent. A rider blessed with promise, Vietto was additionally filled with paradox, and thriller. And with this 12 months’s Tour de France beginning in Good on the French Côte d’Azur, it solely becoming to look again on the rise and plenty of tragic collapses of the “Roi René” or King René as he was affectionately known as.

Vietto was born in Rocheville au Cannet, and he grew up working as a groom within the many luxurious inns located right here on the French Riviera. But it surely quickly turned evident that Vietto was nothing in need of an enormous expertise on a motorcycle. It was right here on this area the place Vietto signed his first successes, and it was right here within the 1934 Tour de France, scored one in all his first victories within the Tour—a memorable victory on the stage from Good to Cannes that raced by the again hills of Good, very like the opening phases of this 12 months’s Tour.

Vietto’s profession, nevertheless, could be outlined by each his flashes of brilliance in addition to outstanding tragedy, and eventually, lengthy intervals of mediocrity. However his profession was something however forgettable.

And this 12 months Vietto’s legend has been revisited is the topic of a documentary “Le Roi Melancolique,” by a younger French filmmaker Julien Camy.

Julien Camy. Photograph: James Startt.

“I wrote a book on sport and cinema, and I discovered the incredible story of René Vietto,” Camy stated over a fast lunch in Good’s Previous City earlier than the beginning of this 12 months’s Tour.

“And what’s more, I discovered that he was born in Rocheville au Cannet, where I am from, and when I went down into my cellar, I found an old trophy ‘Challenge René Vietto’ from one of my first races ever. Suddenly everything came together. But the more I researched his story, the less I understood. He was such an enigma. He managed to create a whole myth around himself. And finding the truth is not easy.”

For Vietto, 1934 was nothing if not his breakout Tour, as he gained at least 4 phases in his debut effort.

But it surely was not the phases he gained, however reasonably the misfortune that dogged him by the race. Already on stage two, he misplaced 33 minutes after flatting at least eight occasions. He however battled again, profitable two Alpine phases in addition to that to Cannes. His competitors, in addition to the general public, was immediately captivated by his fluid pedal stroke and the truth that, even when climbing the best mountains within the Tour, his shoulders by no means appeared to maneuver.

A couple of observer stated that he might doubtless climb a mountain with a glass of water on his again, with out a spilling a drop. “I sure would have liked to be able to climb like Vietto,” Antonin Rolland — who wore the yellow jersey for 12 days within the 1995 Tour — says in Camy’s movie. No, make little doubt about it, Vietto had class.

Picture courtesy of Julien Camy.

However all the class on the planet couldn’t win him the Tour de France, for whereas he could properly have been the strongest rider within the Tour, as a neophyte, his position was to assist French nationwide group chief Antonin Magne, winner already in 1931.

However when the Tour hit the Pyrenees, Magne struggled. Crashing on the stage to Aix-Les-Thermes, he shattered his wheel, and it was Vietto who needed to cease and provides Magne his personal. Vietto might solely sit on a stone wall and anticipate help. And as he noticed his personal probabilities within the Tour evaporate, he cried. However pictures captured that day, solely helped forge Vietto’s picture. In any case, legends are so typically born in tragedy.

The misfortune solely continued the next day when Vietto was once more off the entrance, however really needed to cease and climb two kilometers again up the Portet d’Aspet as Magne suffered one more mechanical. However whereas he had definitively misplaced the Tour, he had resoundingly captured the hearts of the followers.

In 1939, the ultimate Tour earlier than WWII, Vietto appeared to lastly have put misfortune behind him as he wore the yellow jersey for 11 days. However he lastly collapsed on the Col de l’Izoard after battling a chilly for days. He went on to complete second, however his tenacity continued to extend his status.

However his worst defeat got here in 1947, the primary Tour de France after WWII. In some ways, he appeared destined to win it. He dominated a lot of the race, taking on the yellow jersey already on stage two and main the race for a minimum of 15 days.

However as soon as once more it wasn’t to be. Battling a toe that he might barely match it into his shoe, he began to fade. And the ultimate time trial proved to be at least a crucifixion, as he was merely humiliated by the little know Jean Rubic, who went on to win the Tour and all the glory that got here with being the primary post-war winner.

Vietto, so pissed off, really reduce off his toe shortly after the race, and the explanations for his defeat diversified over time, solely including to the thriller.

Photograph courtesy of Julien Camy.

“For many, Vietty was the link in the French imagination from before WWII to after,” stated Camy. “He had that amazing Tour in 1934 and then again in 1939. And then finally in 1947. All of France really wanted him to win. It was his to win. And he lost.”

Camy insists that Vietto nonetheless fascinates individuals immediately. “He was just such an enigma. He managed to create a personage consciously or unconsciously. There is a little bit of Marco Pantani in Vietto. There was so much tragedy in his story.”

“He had a different vision of cycling,” Camy continues. “He raced bikes differently. And that really left its mark. He might not have won, but he created history. Again, Pantani had that capacity. And so does Julian Alaphilippe today. Alaphilippe can really push himself to the end, beyond his limits. Look at Milano-Sanremo this year. He just blew the race apart on the Poggio. But he dug too deep. He is one of the best descenders in the world, but on the descent, he completely missed the first three turns. He was just too far in the red. He couldn’t see anything. There are not many racers like that, willing to take such risks to win that they really risk losing too. Vietto was like that.”

Filmy Online


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