With the cycle racing world shut down in the Great Coronavirus Pandemic of 2020, pedalheads are looking to videos of old races to get their fix. The National Film Board of Canada website has some very good cycling content, and the peach of its collection is the beautifully shot, award winning short doc “60 Cycles” directed by Jean-Claude Labrecque.
Take 16 minutes to watch this gorgeously shot presentation of the 2400-km 1964 Le Tour du Saint-Laurent in Québec. Except for establishing narration, it utilizes only natural sound and knock-off versions of Ventures and Booker T and the MG tunes. The 90-second opening shot is particularly effective as a 1000-mm lens on a fixed camera records the race caravan and peloton coming straight at the viewer.
This is old-school racing: nasty roads, casquettes, wool jerseys, toe-clips, and water bottles on the handlebars. Mixed in with Canadians and Americans are Europeans galore, including members of the Wiel’s-Groene Leeuw team. It’s all fascinating stuff on its own, but with Labrecque’s eye, the race is illuminated by what has been called “a virtual encyclopedia of camera techniques”.
The 11th Le Tour du Saint-Laurent included a 386-km stage from Rimouski to Montmagny and had Belgium André D’haene as its champion. The final edition came the next year with Rik Pauwels, 9th at the 1966 Amstel Gold Race, the last titlist.