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Race to the top is not quite a Tour de Force

Ventoux, Warwick Arts Centre Studio, May 18-19

This play is about the intense rivalry between cyclists Lance Armstrong and

Marco Pantani as they competed for the coveted yellow jersey when

ascending the formidable Mont Ventoux during the 2000 Tour de France.

It is energetically and dynamically delivered by Tom Barnes and

Alexander Gatehouse on a set containing two stationary bikes and three ice


The production contains video footage and actual audio commentary as well

as some extraordinarily fast pedalling.

Both cyclists had faced adversity – Armstrong had over overcome testicular

cancer while Pantani had alcohol and drug addictions

Their careers subsequently followed different paths with Armstrong winning

seven overall victories while Pantani went into steep decline and died alone

from acute cocaine poisoning.

Sadly both competitors were later discredited as it was discovered that their

remarkable efforts were fuelled by drugs.

The actors appeared to have been chosen for their cycling ability and

impressive stamina and fitness rather than their acting skills with no attempts

at a Texan or Italian accent.

The impressive first night audience appeared to comprise many cycling fans

and the imaginative production was well received.

It showed the lengths that top sportsmen will go to in order to win but did not

fully explore the reasons why.

It appears that taking performance enhancing drugs was rife in cycling at this

time and you have to feel some sympathy for competitors who wanted to

remain clean but knew that their efforts to climb the hills would not be made

on a level playing field.

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