It’s Sunday so let’s go back to the pave and try to relive the 1976 version of the Paris-Roubaix classic, as beautifully documented in genius Danish filmmaker Jorgen Leth’s “A Sunday in Hell.”
Today, I want to take a moment to discuss the man that so far I’ve only been calling the “narrator.” His pointed commentary and dry sense of humor are one of my favorite parts of the film. He deserves a better introduction.
He’s David Saunders, the late Daily Telegraph reporter who spent a good part of his career trying to get the British public hooked on our beautiful sport. Indeed, a noble but difficult task.
While researching Saunders, I found this wonderful piece of writing. Here’s his description of the death of British rider Tom Simpson, who died of dehydration and a fatal mixture of alcohol and amphetamines on the unrelenting slopes of Mount Ventoux in the Tour de France on July 13, 1967:
“When he fell from his machine on Mont Ventoux on that fateful day, he did what one could only have expected. He asked to be put back on his bike. He was then at death’s door but still would not give in. He was still in possession of all his faculties for he recognised people and spoke to them by name but, as he wove drunkenly across the road for the last time and was held up by spectators, he had reached the end of the road, his final milestone. Eye-witnesses told me that his fingers had to be prised from the handlebars and it took two helpers to open his mouth, so tightly clenched were his teeth.”wafflesandsteel | Filed under: "A Sunday in Hell", David Saunders, Jorgen Leth, Tom Simpson | 2 Comments »