Tour de France: Unchained Season 1 Review – Netflix finally have a Drive to Survive successor

Season 1

Episode Guide

The Grand Depart
Welcome to Hell
The Weight of a Nation
Attack, Counter Attack
Breakneck Speed
Plan B
Everything for the Podium
Road to Paris


The Tour de France is one of the most intense and grueling physical tests of endurance in sports today. While one could argue that events like the Marathon De Sables is equally testing, cycling adds an element of unpredictability and danger that’s hard to find in other endurance sports.

Split across 21 stages and featuring at least 176 different riders, the Tour de France features many ups and downs along the way as the race for the Yellow Jersey intensifies, and the fight to become the number 1 cyclist in the world reaches fever pitch.

Never one to miss a trick, Netflix document all of this in their latest sport docu-series and in many ways, it’s surprising that the streaming giants haven’t turned to cycling before. With both golf and tennis hitting the limelight recently in their own series, it was perhaps only a matter of time before the Tour de France got its time to shine. And shine it does.

It obviously helps that a sport like cycling involves a lot of pulsating and nail-biting moments but this 8 part series is about as close to the earlier seasons of Drive to Survive, complete with all the excitement and suspense that comes with that, as you’ll get.

As a French production, there is a lot of focus on the French teams and riders, but the show does a decent job recapping the 2022 season in full, showing all the highs and lows along the way, along with highlighting other teams that are vying for glory. However, this is also very clearly not designed for newcomers either.

While it’s easy to naively point at a bike and just believe you need to pedal your way to success, the tactical nuance and the ins and outs that go into different stages isn’t touched on in too much detail. If that wasn’t enough, some of the events and stages are rushed through. Even in the final chapter, there’s four stages crammed into 45 minutes and it feels rushed, especially as this misses big details, like Pogacar’s crash.

With a few more episodes and a bit more depth, it would have been nice to see Unchained really showcase aesthetic cues like real-time maps to see how the course is progressing (especially given the slew of breathtaking aerial shots here) and even something as simple as understanding the cyclists’ diet or refueling while on the course. All of these little oversights would have done this show wonders to make it more accessible to newbies to the sport.

One of the best parts of Drive to Survive came from that aforementioned accessibility. The show managed to propel the popularity of Formula 1 and it did so by introducing a lot of behind the scenes footage one wouldn’t have otherwise seen. While Unchained does that to an extent, it doesn’t quite lift the veil and show enough to really give this a feel of anything other than a big recap of 2022’s race.

Tour De France: Unchained is still worth a watch though, even with its shortcomings. Last year’s event was one of the most intense and exciting in recent history and Netflix’s docu-series does a great job of capturing all of that across its 8 chapters. While it’s not perfect, this is about as close as you’re going to get to those excellent early seasons of Drive to Survive.

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  • Verdict - 7.5/10

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