Is season two of Movistar’s Netflix doc worth watching?

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Just in time to take advantage of some pre-Tour de France hype, season two of the Movistar docuseries on Netflix has arrived. Fourteen months after “El día menos pensado” (The Least Expected Day) first gave us a glimpse into the inner workings of the Spanish WorldTour squad during the 2019 season, we now get another look at how things played out in 2020.

 

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The first season was well-worth the watch, and I checked out the six-episode run to find out if season two was as well – and I was pleased to find it easy to stay engaged throughout all six episodes.

In short: Season two of the Movistar docuseries is just as compelling as season one.

I started my last review with all the things I liked about season one, but I think it makes sense to get some negatives out of the way first for season two. Two stand out right off the bat, but neither of them derailed my enjoyment enough to put me off of watching.

For starters, you probably already know going in that there just weren’t as many big names on the Movistar roster in 2020 as there had been the previous season. Mikel Landa, Nairo Quintana, and Richard Carapaz all left the team, and there’s no way around the fact that having those marquee riders on the roster made season one a more enticing watch.

On a related note, you probably also know going in that Movistar didn’t exactly light up the road racing circuit in 2020. Unlike in season one, there would be no Grand Tour victory in the cards for the protagonists of season two. Seeing the inner workings of Carapaz’s Giro win in 2019 was a treat, and we definitely don’t get that in season two.

In other words: Be forewarned that there won’t be any really big names doing really big things in season two.

If you can get past that, you should enjoy your time watching, because season two offers perhaps an even more honest look at the inner workings of a WorldTour team than season one did, with the same great production values and slightly less confusing pacing. There are more intra-team squabbles and more frustration (partially thanks to that lack of results), but also plenty of sympathetic moments.

What you can look forward to

I don’t want to spoil too much, so I’ll try to steer clear of offering too many details, but I’ll clue you into just a few of compelling moments you can look forward to, should you decide to tune in.

  • From the first episode, the docuseries gets right into last year’s Tour de France. That race kicked off with a pretty nasty opening stage in the rain. You really get to see the human side of cycling when a bruised José Joaquín Rojas gets on the bus after hitting the deck hard, and that won’t be the last time Rojas crashing makes for compelling television during the series.
  • The fact that the Tour is the first Grand Tour of the season was, of course, due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the series provides some insight into the challenges of racing during the pandemic without focusing too heavily on the subject.
  • The great brake debate makes an appearance in the series as there is no shortage of strife within the team when the riders feel the need to complain about their disc brakes, new for the Movistar team in 2020.
  • Even at age 40 and with a world championship and a boatload of other big wins under his belt, Alejandro Valverde surprisingly gets his fair share of criticism from sports directors and teammates.
  • Really, a lot of people get their fair share of criticism (and maybe even more than their fair share). We don’t see all that much in the way of full-scale blowups, but things aren’t always entirely friendly behind the scenes at Movistar either. We get more of that in season two than season one, including an exchange that features a rider saying about a teammate, “He called me a d—head,” while his director reminds him, “You know what he’s like.” Other tense moments are only shown indirectly; for one instance in particular, the DSes admit to having wiped GoPro footage so that we can’t see and hear riders saying what must have been some pretty egregious stuff to the team cars.
  • Sports directors from opposing teams don’t always play nice either, as we see during a stage of the Giro d’Italia.
  • Marc Soler, just as in season one, provides many of the compelling moments in season two. At one point, we watch him struggling at the back during the Tour and very nearly leaving the race as his director tries to convince him to hang in there. Later, as you may remember, he won a stage at the Vuelta, and it’s nice to see how that came together and what it meant for an underperforming team. It’s also good television watching him get angry when things don’t go his way, or watching his coworkers pile on the criticism when he screws things up. Maybe a bit too much.
  • The teams classification may be an afterthought for most of us, but apparently it really does mean something to the riders who go for it.
Marc Soler on Col de Peyresourde during stage 8 of the Tour de France.

Final thoughts

Through six episodes, there are enough moments of tension, surprise, humor, and humanity in the series to keep your attention. With the exception of those wiped GoPros and another season of subtitles that translate the constant use of joder and other not-so-polite Spanish words and phrases into less coarse English, things generally feel a bit less sanitized in season two than they did in season one. The protagonists of the second season might not be as well-known to English-speaking audiences as Landa and Co. were, but they’re just as honest this time, if not more so.

The Movistar women’s team also makes an appearance, but it’s a brief one. In fact, it’s brief enough as to feel like a disjointed entry in the narrative. It feels like the producers could have handled things a bit differently to provide a much more extended look at the women’s side of the team.

The pacing isn’t perfect either, but the all-over-the-place pacing was my biggest criticism of season one, and season two is at least somewhat better in that respect. The series starts with the biggest race of the year and only occasionally makes confusing time jumps, and it’s hard to blame the producers when last year’s Giro and Vuelta overlapped on the calendar.

All told, season two felt just compelling as season one did, and I’d definitely recommend it to any fan of pro road racing. What’s more, we get a nice teaser of the potential for a compelling 2021 season in the final episode. With superstar Annemiek van Vleuten joining the women’s team, elevating the roster to a significantly higher level than the previous season, and Miguel Ángel López joining the men’s squad only a few years after hurling some pretty sharp criticism at his now-teammates, there would be plenty of interesting storylines for the cameras to follow if the series returns for a third season.

The post Is season two of Movistar’s Netflix doc worth watching? appeared first on CyclingTips.


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