Photos as indicated, preview written by Noah De Jong (Guest reporter BP)
Sunday, November 8th finally sees the Irish release of Kieron J. Walsh’s much anticipated joint Belgian/Irish movie “The Racer” which is set during the iconic and infamous 1998 Tour de France in which Dublin hosted the Grand Depart. The film was due to have its international premiere at the South By Southwest film festival in Austin Texas during the opening night until Covid put an unfortunate and untimely stop to the festival at the eleventh hour. But after a successful ‘Drive-in’ premiere on September 7th at the divine location of the Muur van Geraardsbergen, the film has been shown in Cinemas across Belgium and Netherlands. Ireland’s largest and most prestigious film festival the 65th Cork International Film Festival (https://corkfilmfest.org/) is now the platform for the Irish release of the film which will debut to an eager audience on an opening evening. Due to Covid-19, the festival is online however the film will be shown in Irish cinemas when restrictions allow.
The movie features Belgian heartthrobs Louis Talpe and Matteo Simoni who play TDF riders on the fictional Austrange team, as well as starring the team’s soigneur Iain Glen (Game of Thrones), directeur sportif Karel Roden (Hellboy), UCI doctor Tara Lee (Moon Dogs) amongst others. Many Irish cyclists however will no doubt spot the abundance of prominent riders on the Irish scene who were selected to be a part of this movie. These include Irish road and track champions well known to The Belgian Project! Track sprinter and frequent guest photographer to The Belgian Project Tony Mairs, former BP composite team rider Andy Maguire. Also Cian Keogh, who as many will know is also a former bursary holder of “The Belgian Project” and a popular local rider having just signed with a top U23 Dutch squad for 2021, we wish Cian all the best of luck with his future track and road plans! Austrange team climber Eoin Byrne (Orwell CC) was also an eminent rider on the team, taking time out of his studying and work schedule to fulfill the big screen duties.
Filming took place in both Luxembourg and in Ireland with majestic cycling scenes in and around Wicklow and also Merrion Square in Dublin all with the sunny Irish weather of course! Multiple Irish Track Champion Anthony Mairs (East Tyrone CC) was clad in the tight magenta coloured kit of Team Austrange which no doubt he loved even if he had to be reminded to keep the kit on when the cameras rolled! 2020 Irish Criterium Champion Andy Maguire who rides for Spellman Dublin-Port is often seen at the front of the peloton as the menacing and muscular right-hand man for rival team Settosa’s hot-headed sprinter Stefano Drago, who is played by Luxembourg actor Timo Wagner.Lead actor Louis Talpe plays Dom Chabol, a Flemish domestique nearing the end of his career but dreaming of wearing yellow before his days in the sport are up. He is tasked to ride in support of team sprinter Tartare (Matteo Simoni) who is supremely talented and knows it yet he relies on the experienced Chabol in order to get him through tough times. Tensions soon rise with team orders being flouted and the climate not being helped by an attractive young female doctor (Tara Lee) who Dom is beginning to fall for. Dom has to chase personal ambitions first and foremost if he is to taste victory but is it too late in his career? The film promises drama, action, and team rivalry but notably, there is an engulfing artistic flair unique to cycling. There is a strong nostalgic feel capturing the 1990’s well which will take many of us back to an unforgettable time when Tour Fever hit the Emerald Isle hard. The Wicklow hills are showcased nicely in the movie and many of the cycling scenes are very well captured in an unorthodox and creative way.
All of the Irish riders involved were highly grateful at being given a chance to be a part of this unique production, they all reported enjoying the experience greatly. Keep an eye out for a dashing Paul McQuaid who not only played a majestic part but who also slaved over late 1990’s period bikes, keeping them in tip-top condition for the team and was constantly seeing to the calamitous rider number 13’s derailleur…some riders are sent from hell to test the skills and patience of mechanics! Official trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DuU8I_WlBxw Other Irish based riders featured in the bike and roadside scenes included: Luke Kearney, Aaron O’Donohue, Damien Murphy, Edvins Silov, Gavin Byrne, Paul Trainor, Ryan Byrne, James Moore, Pat Dobbs, Tony Lynch, Con Kennedy, John Edwards, Caragh Rellis and Pascal Derrin