Redemption Through Victory
First announced at Interbike 2003, the film The Quest has
been released on DVD.
The film by Spinning Wheel Productions fittingly founded in the Southern
California's "Venice" near Hollywood, the center of film culture and production.
Although the Venice of California is a distant location from the roads of Italy,
it is perhaps destiny that a company situated in the "Venice of the West" would
and could capture the passion of Italy for the Giro d' Italia.
Garzelli, Simoni, Popovych 2003
Greg St. Johns and his partner Jonathan West, both Hollywood
film veterans have taken their expertise learned on the sets of Hollywood and
their passion for cycling and as Jaime Nichols said in her articles after the
announcement of the film, "delivered an intimate portrait of the world’s most
The articles and interviews with the film makers are presented in two articles
The Quest Part I and
The Quest Part II in September 2003. Jaime's articles follow Greg St.
Johns' personal quest to make the film and give
an inside look at the making of the film and are highly recommended reading to
understand the background of the effort by Greg St. Johns, Scott Montgomery and
Cannondale Bikes to bring the concept to reality.
The film starts with an interview of Phil Ligget who once
and for all sets aside the notion that the Giro is a race and its winners are
any less the Champions when compared to the Tour de France. I heartily agree,
unfortunately in the past the Tour has garnered the majority of press and TV
coverage. The Quest goes one step further to dispel that forlorn belief.
Phil Ligget performs as the journeyman commentator that he is, passionately
describing the stage by stage race action during the film as the films narrator.
I must admit that I heavily anticipated this movie as many
fans have. After watching it once, I just had to queue up the DVD player and
watch it a few more times.
You might find yourself doing the same thing.
When I started this review I was briefly tongue tied or in the parlance of
It is an admirable film in so many ways, how could I do it justice without
seeming to have lost my critical bent as a reviewer?
Quite honestly, the sport of cycling has so many great stories that is a pleasure
to see one brought to the screen at this level of quality; its a winner at many
levels. The production value, narration, sound, music and photography are
flawless and compliment the action; each is seamless, technically nothing
distracts the viewer from the experience.
An Epic Tale
The Giro of 2002 is an epic tale, as most Grand Tours are; it is filled with
memorable characters, driven competitors, important moments, monuments and
subplots. It is a war with a hero and crew set against the tides of fate seeking
their destiny much like Jason on his quest for the golden fleece. The Quest more
than communicates this epic battle, it presents a summary of its battles and
motivation from the inside of the winning teams heart and soul.
Gilberto Simoni and Saeco Seek Vindication
The Quest is more than a intimate documentary of the rider from
Palu Di Giovo, Italy, who started riding at age 14 to emulate his hometown
hero Francesco Moser.
It is as much about the Saeco/Cannondale team and how they intimately interact
with a unity of purpose to win the Giro.
Each member of the team, from the General Manager, Directeur Sportifs, soigneurs,
masseuse, doctors, mechanics and riders are interviewed and shown in action
doing what they do to support the goal of winning the Giro. One gets a sense of
the unity and esprit of team that makes it possible for one rider and team to
lead and win a demanding 21-day Grand Tour. It is the definitive look at the
inside day to day operation of a pro team in a grand tour.
Cycling giants and Saeco brain trust
Giuseppe Martinelli and
Claudio Corti give a glimpse to building the team and tactics used in their
interviews; a rare look into what plans and deceptions are played to win a grand
To put The Quest into perspective it is the tale of a rider
and his team
Saeco seeking vindication and in some way vengeance for a tragedy the year
before when Gilberto Simoni on his way to his second Giro victory was dropped
from the Giro after
doping allegations that were later
dismissed and the Gibo was declared innocent.
The team was
unfairly denied a start in the
Tour de France that year and Gibo returned to racing in August and
the Vuelta after the charges were
cleared. "My teammates missed out on doing well in the Giro and were stopped from riding
the Tour. The Saeco president, Sergio Zapella, and team manager have put their
faith in me and so I owe them a lot. I hope I can pay them back."
During the film Gibo comments on the personal hell of the
year before. Gibo is less concerned with what some say and think; he more
thoughtfully confident and calm in his integrity. One can't miss seeing in his
eyes his quest for this victory at this Giro to silence his detractors and gain
Simoni in an
interview with Gazzeta January 2003: “They stole one year from me. What I
lost nobody will give me back. That’s why this is an important year, the most
important of my career. Nothing has to go wrong”.
Gibo on the Zoncolan
Monuments & Moments
Witness the coming of age of Allesandro Petacchi sweeping stage after stage,
battling "Super Mario" and Robbie McEwen. Cipollini undeniably the sports
greatest showman in the rainbow jersey of the world champion, fights wheel to
wheel for stage wins in his chase for the Giro stage record of legend Alfredo
Binda. The look of disbelief on Cipo's face when he is beaten by Allejet in the
first stage is worth the price of the film.
Lion King, can not be denied - he fights on undaunted; finally he in a one on
one with McEwen the rainbow jersey wins and he seizes Binda's record. Sadly
later we see the horror of a crash that determines Cipo's
retirement from the race.
Stage 12 on the Monster Zoncolan see Marco Pantani in some of the last film
of this climbing giant climbing as he once did attacking with all the power he
once displayed. Il Pirate would finish 14th in this Giro marking what many hoped
would be a return to winning. The film finishes with a dedication to Marco.
Pantani, Simoni, Casagrande, Garzelli,
Popovych, Belli, Scarponi and Gonzalez battle to the top. Time and age are
cruel companions and as one star rises often another star falls, young guns and
top guns careers rise and fall on the slopes of the Monte Zoncolan.
The youngest rider and future winner of the Giro is 21 year old
Damiano Cunego - in the film there are several interviews you will have to
watch to see what drives this young gun. Yaroslav Popovych in his second Giro
battles his way to the podium as fellow young gun Damiano speaks of his hopes to
test himself in future tours.
Greg St. Johns has also captured footage of the riders
before the races singing together and celebrating their camaraderie. Because
each days footage is intertwined with the meals and life of the Saeco team one
sees the slow gain of physical exhaustion that the stages and effort are
The Giro: a Love Affair to be Remembered
One of the greatest pleasures the film gave me was an insight into the
heart and soul of Italian racing from the riders to the fans captured before the
race as the riders sign autographs, during the stages and at the podium
The peloton has been extended from the riders to all of Italy as a members of a
family. The passion is contagious. The Giro is a carnival of love and
interaction between rider and fans, a passion play for the sport and spectacle
of the beauty of Italy. For this alone The Quest receives high marks. It has
moved the Giro to the top of my wish list of Grand Tours to see in person.
The Quest is a definite must have for any cycling video
collection. It is a essential part of Giro history.
The interviews of the riders are in Italian and are subtitled in English. I
expect The Quest will become as popular with Italians and Italian speaking fans
as it will amongst their English-speaking "cycling crazy" counterparts, as Fabio
Gilberto and 2003 Giro Trophy
The good news is that you can now purchase it directly
from the Spinning Wheel Productions today.
Spinning Wheel Productions, presented by Cannondale
Running time: 1:44
The following is a set of links to reports on the 2002 and 2003 Giros; others are
in the review above. While you're waiting for the DVD to arrive you can refresh
the events that led up to that epic Giro.
Daily Peloton Giro Hub pages:
Giro d' Italia 2002
Giro d' Italia 2003
Gilberto returned in 2002 as the defending champion: Saeco-Longoni Sport
will have last year's Maglia Rosa Gilberto Simoni as its undisputed leader, as
he rides in his quest for a second pink jersey. Beating his rivals to Milan in
last year's edition in commanding fashion with a lead of over 7 minutes, Simoni
also placed third in the two previous editions of the Giro leading up to his
win. He has said that for him and his team, the Giro is "the only objective of
Gibo's season has not been without its low points this year: a crash in stage
two of this year's Setmana Catalana left him with a micro fracture in the knee,
which forced him into a three week rest. Managing only a 28th place finish in
last Saturday's GP Industria & Artigianato-Larciano, it seemed that his form was
still a ways off, but he put in a stronger ride on Sunday at the Giro de Tosca,
finishing with the leaders, and only 11 seconds off the winning time.
May 22, 2002 Stage 9: Reports of Simoni positive test.
May 24 Stage 11 Gilberto Simoni replied to the controversy, suspicion and
doubts surrounding him in his usual style, winning the the mountain stage to
Campitello Matese. After a terrible day yesterday Simoni he bounced back in just
24 hours showing an incredible mental strength. "It's been an terrible moment
but this win pays me back, Simoni said. "I want to dedicate the stage win to my
wife Arianna and my mum."
In the overall standings the Saeco-Longoni sport team leader moved up to third
place overall, 3'15" behind Heppner. He promised to attack in the mountains,
renewing his challenge to win the Giro for a second consecutive time.
May 25, 2002 Before the start of the 12th stage to Campobasso this morning,
the Saeco-Longoni sport team has told rider Gilberto Simoni their decision to
retire him from the 85th Giro d'Italia. All charges were dropped later in late July by the Italian
government and the UCI.