Sheffield Doc/Fest Review: Time Trial

When it comes to sports documentaries, cycling has always been one of the most popular disciplines. Whilst this might have something to do with the rigours and hardships of becoming a top professional athlete, it’s also down to the amount of drug scandals which have plagued the sport. In recent years, Lance Armstrong: Stop at Nothing, The Armstrong Lie and Icarus have all dealt with doping. Finlay Pretsell’s new film Time Trial tackles cheating and cycling from a unique angle.

In the early 2000s, David Millar was one of the most exciting, talented and upcoming cyclists in the world. In his first professional season he won a stage of the Tour de France and there were high hopes that he would go onto win the competition one day. Then, in 2004, after being arrested he admitted taking performance enhancing drugs and was suspended for two years. After serving his ban he became an outspoken anti-doping advocate and got back into the sport. Despite a few successes, he never quite lived up to his promise, often due to injury and illness. Time Trial follows Millar during the last season of his career.

Time Trial is an immersive and often brutal portrait of a professional reaching the end of his career and realising he just can’t do it anymore. Pretsell follows Millar as he battles against the roads and the elements but comes to accept that he can simply no longer keep up. Made with a blunt honesty, it focuses on the every day toil and strain. This is offset by visuals which are almost hallucinatory at times and a vibrant soundtrack by Dan Deacon. Time Trial is a fascinating insight into what it takes to become a professional athlete and how it can break you.

The UK Premiere of Time Trial is in cinemas from 29 June.

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