With over 40 bullets in his body, LeMond slowly began his journey to become a professional cyclist. He eventually became a competitor in the ’89 tournament, when most of the action of this documentary takes place. There began a rivalry with French champion cyclist Laurent Fignon, the same man who beat Hinault in the ’84 Tour and led LeMond to help Hinault win the following year. An ego-fueled, media-loathed and shy fantasy of a Frenchman, Fignon almost took his balls off to beat LeMond, who was just there to see if he could still roll with the big dogs.
“The Last Rider” is a gripping, efficient race to the finish line. Director Alex Holmes takes us back to those grueling hills that LeMond and Fignon rode and passed with the help of lots of video footage and commentary from the LeMonds. There’s also testimony from Pedro Delgado (the ’88 Tour winner, whose late start in the ’89 Tour prologue practically sparked the LeMond-Fignon rivalry) and Cyrille Guimard, the former coach-turned-cyclist who coached LeMond, Fignon and Hinault .
Although The Last Rider features Fignon, who died of cancer in 2010, as the designated villain (you could say anyone who’s French in the story — and that includes Hinault and the big-chested Guimard — is the antagonist), both Holmes and LeMond. don’t tell early that year when he tested positive for amphetamine. You’d think that LeMond – whose anti-doping stance is so notorious that it infuriated many Lance Armstrong fans when he wondered if the champion cyclist was dancing that day – would be the first to claim that Fignon was on those things. But the closest thing LeMond accuses Fignon of is keeping an engine during the race.
Basically, if you’re a fan of sports cinema, where an all-American guy takes on a Eurotrashy opponent (Fignon even looks like the blonde guy who tried to kill Bruce Willis in “Die Hard”) on a world TV stage. , “The Last Rider” gives a lovely, wonderful portrait of a boy going through an uphill battle – both figuratively AND literally.
Now plays in theaters.