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The Independent Critic

Marcel Kittel, John Degenkolb
Dirk Jan Roeleven
88 Mins.
First Run Features

 "Clean Spirit: In the Heart of the Tour" Released by First Run Features  
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I will confess to have felt just a twinge of cynicism as I started watching Clean Spirit: In the Heart of the Tour, a documentary by Dirk Jan Roeleven that introduces us to a pro cycling team striving to compete the "right way" and, in so doing it, has managed to launch the careers of two of cycling's most talented riders of this generation, Marcel Kittel and John Degenkolb. The two young riders, joined by their teammates, are determined to show that it is possible to win without doping.

Clean Spirit follows the team during the 100th edition of the Tour de France, cycling's premiere event and a perfect opportunity to see if what they envision can actually be a reality. The excitement builds over the course of the 88-minute film as stage wins and the coveted yellow jersey are on the line. Clean Spirit also follows the men through their everyday lives throughout the tour including in their hotels, on the team bus, at meals, during team meetings, celebrating wins, commiserating losses, enduring obstacles, and quite a bit more.

Clean Spirit could very well offer cycling the boost that it needs, though my own reaction of skepticism won't likely be alone as you watch these men and you surely hope that they really are walking their talk. The film is beautifully shot and inspiring, a captivating look at a widely known yet not completely understood sport. There are moments of heartbreak and moments of immense humor, though more than anything there's the beauty and majesty that has captivated cycling fans for years and it's a beauty and majesty that helps one understand the sacrifices that cyclists make in their quest to be regarded as one of the best.

Clean Spirit is available now on DVD and VOD. For more information, visit the First Run Features website linked to in the credits on the left.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic  

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