In part one, we revealed a few of our favorite cycling production locations from our two principal bases - Italy and Basque Country. We produce audiovisual content from all over the Europe in cycling’s most iconic locations as well as the hidden gems known only to locals. We search far and wide to ensure the best shot types for each and every production.
Some shots require more extreme conditions like the high peaks of the Alps or Dolomites while others require specific locations so that content is relevant ahead of big events in the calendar such as the Tour de France. Others, such as productions with travel companies mean that we film in the exact areas in which our clients operate.
One thing remains constant throughout all of our locations - we search the best location for each and every production. Here, we reveal five more of our preferred locations in central and southern Europe.
Aubisque (Pyrenees, France)
We were first introduced to the Pyrenees while racing. As pretty much everyone who has raced knows, it’s far from the best way to get to know an area, as the majority of the time you are focused on the talk at hand rather than sight seeing. When Basque Bike contracted us to film a weekend in the Pyrenees, we only remembered the suffering on the long, irregular climbs of the area. As we started our scouting process, we were amazed by the wild, natural beauty of the Pyrenees. We must have been a bit oxygen deprived while racing all those years ago, because we were expecting scenes much more similar to the French Alps and their large, commercial ski areas. The Pyrenees are completely different from their alpine cousins. Upon arrival on the Col d’Aubisque, we were greeted by kilometers of wide roads and wild, open views.
Not a lot of people come to shoot in the Pyrenees despite their fame. We love filming here. The road writing from past Tours de France remind us of the rich cycling history in the area. At the top of the Aubisque, the road writing instantly recalls defining moments in cycling history long after the hoards of roaring fans have gone home. The area gives us so many shot options to tell a story. The choices seem to be as limitless as the outreached mountain peaks on the horizon.
Belchen (Black Forest, Germany)
Sometimes, you need to stand out. If your content is on the same roads as everyone else, you will look, well, just like everyone else. For this reason, we selected a hidden gem for a production this past summer - The Black Forest. This enormous natural area near Freiburg, Germany and Basel, Switzerland is not a well known cycling destination outside of the region. However, its huge network of twisting, forested mountain roads is largely traffic free, and, being maintained by the hyper-organized German state, the roads are in pristine condition. If you don’t have a stabilizer while filming from the car or moto, no problem - the roads are so smooth you can get away without one if needed.
In fact, it’s amazing that there aren’t more races or training camps in the area. The long climbs, cool temperatures, and mixture of dense woods, open views, and characteristic towns and landscapes are perfect for long-rides and film productions alike. Perhaps our favorite road so far is near the Belchen, about 20-30km from Freiburg. The dense woods and switchbacks allow shots with tons of movement by showing contrast with the evergreens or across the constantly twisting roads. Additionally, the combination of dense woods and open areas allow us to capture images in the ideal light throughout the entire day. Some places, like Tuscany or Ventoux (see below), are great places, but high levels of light during the middle of the day limit their potential from an audiovisual & logistical standpoint. Likewise, in these more famous areas we have to be careful about not getting the same shot that 500 other brands have already done. When the shot options are this plentiful and each one is unique, we’re left wanting to extend the shot… and maybe even to sneak in a ride or two!
Collepietra/Steinegg (Dolomites, Italy)
This small road parallelling the main routes from Bolzano to the Val di Fassa will likely never see a stage of even the Giro del Trentino (now Tour of the Alps), much less a stage of the Giro d’Italia. For us, however, it couldn’t be a better place to film. This road is about the width of a bike path, meaning that there is very little traffic. It winds through pine forests, offering open majestic views of jagged Dolomite peaks. Apart from filming from the side or at very high-speeds behind the car, we can do just about anything here. We’ve used the beautiful scenery as a backdrop for panoramic drone shots and detailed product shots.
It’s one of those places that is perfect to create an entire social-media storytelling campaign or tie together with shots of the nearby Dolomite valleys or Bolzano just minutes below.
There are few places in the world that can boast the iconic scenery and unique, little-known set all in one location. In places like these, we can create numerous stories in various ways to make unique, iconic content. Places like this are rare beauties, and make the shot so unique.
Ventoux (Provence, France)
Ventoux is one of the most iconic places in cycling. Virtually every meter of the road snaking up to the barren, moonscape peak has played host to memorable moments in cycling history from Tom Simpson to Pantani vs. Armstrong. Perhaps it is the seemingly extraterrestrial landscape combined with the superhuman feats we see any time the Giant of Provence features in Le Tour that bring such strong emotions when producing here. However, we produce in many famous places steeped in cycling history, so this is only a part of the reason we enjoy filming here so much.
Anyone who has ridden Mt. Ventoux will tell you that it’s a tale of two climbs. We prefer the classic ascent from Bedoin where the wooded road to Chalet Reynard sets our stage for the first part of the climb. Unlike our other favorite climbs, this part of Ventoux is almost void of switchbacks, leaving us plenty of opportunities for long, continuous shots of all sorts. Gradually, the music begins to change when the famous summit first peaks through the trees a couple of kilometers before Chalet Reynard.
After passing the Chalet, the second part of the climb begins in earnest. The landscape turns abruptly open with the constant views of the summit that are perhaps some of the most famous in cycling. The absence of trees allows for wider shots across the rocky land. If you are as lucky as we were, the road will closed to traffic for high wind. As we cycled up the road to our favorite areas, protected from the wind by only the mountainside, we were able to have our pick of almost any shot we wanted (except the drone, which we preferred not to find in the mediterranean from the 100km/hour wind gusts). How often does one get the opportunity to have the camera rolling while the videographer is sat in the middle of one of cycling’s most famous roads? It was an unforgettable experience, and one we’ll be looking to repeat. Here’s to hoping for wind advisories the next time we are in Provence.
Passo del Pidocchio (Verona, Italy)
The little known Lessinia Mountains above Verona are a hidden gem both for riding and creating great audiovisual content. There is hardly any traffic and a mix of flats, climbs, open views, forests, straight and sinuous roads on this high plain above the Adige Valley which marks a geographical center point between the provinces of Trento, Vicenza, and Verona. However, the area is best accessed from Verona. The Passo del Pidocchio is perhaps our favorite part of the entire area for audiovisual productions.
Situated just above the long and terribly steep Sdruzzina where Bradley Wiggins famously threw his bike into a parking spot against a cliff wall, the Passo del Pidocchio offers a roughly 15km ring road that is almost perfect for filming. The fact it’s a ring road at around 1300m above sea level means there is almost no traffic apart from cattle and other cyclists. In fact, our former training partners and teammates from Verona and Trento often come to this very loop to train when there isn’t enough time to go to far away training camps ahead of the Vuelta a Espana or World Cups and the temperature in Verona and Trento creeps into the 40’s Celsius (105+ F). For our productions, we have the option to use narrow switchbacks, wooded roads, and the unique Pre-Dolomite landscapes overlooking the peaks of the Monte Baldo across the Adige River Valley and in the shadows of the Monte Carega at over 1800m.
Given the area is relatively unknown outside of the region, we are able to “play” with all sorts of shots, changing shot angles to get just the frame we want while remaining unique and authentic in the world of cycling. Whether it’s a drone or shot from a moving car, the video and photos from this area are always on point - they turn out right in line with the project goals. We are constantly amazed by the number of quality shots we get from a relatively short stretch of road. It goes to show that it pays to follow the pro’s lead if you’re after authentic scenes. To our knowledge, the area has never seen the Giro d’Italia, but you wouldn’t know from riding through it. Perhaps it’s time for a visit from the Corsa Rosa.