1) EXT. CAR PARK – EARLY MORNING
Camera pans across the busy car park of the Flying Fortress Inn, opposite a Village Hall on the B-17 early on a Sunday morning in late September. Activity all around as guys from their late teens into their mid-thirties are preparing for the race, some alone, others chatting in small groups. OVER we hear the voice of Bobby.
Welcome to the last race of the season, the Wyler Road Race. 24 missions down, one to go. These are the hard men, the season survivors. They just got to make it through today in one piece.
Camera settles on Mike neatly pinning his numbers onto his jersey.
Meet Meticulous Mike, with an eye for detail. He’ll have checked out the course on Google maps beforehand, no mistake. See him folding his numbers down that little bit smaller, replacing the rusty club-issue pins with his own clean stash so as not to snag his skinsuit. Marginal gains all the way.
Pan right to Pete, wincing slightly and adjusting his shorts as he walks uncomfortably to the sign-on.
Ah, the superstitious one. There’s always a superstitious one. Seems to be working for him, got his first cat licence the day he applied his chamois cream after his embrocation and has done it in that order ever since – left leg, right leg, deep breath, undercarriage - swears it makes him go faster. Truth be told, not bad for an amateur. Rumour has it a couple teams got their eye on him.
A burst of loud laughter. Camera pans right again to Jack, Johnny and Bill in matching trade team kits, leaning on a car. Johnny, the ringleader, is holding court.
Check out the young gun hotshots, big fishes in this small pond. Overconfident and ambitious – guts ‘n glory ‘n girls. They’ll soon have that beat out of them, either by each other or by the road. Teammates - and sure, they’re all smiles now but give ‘em each a sniff of a win and it’s soon every man for himself. Especially true today. They've all got an eye on next season, all looking for that last chance to impress.
Camera shifts a little to the left. We see Lenny watching Jack, Johnny and Bill with a mixture of awe and anxiety.
First year out of the juniors, young and awkward, desperate to be part of the cool set - thwarted somewhat by his need to visit the bathroom at least 6 times before the start of every race. Good kid, though. Got heart.
Hey Lenny! Get over here! One to go, Lenny, just one to go!
What are you gonna do when it’s all over, Johnny?
(Puts his arm round Lenny) Wine, women and song! Not necessarily in that order.
What about you Jack?
Holiday. Two weeks in the sun. Top this up! (Flicks back hem of shorts to reveal a crisp tan line)
Yeah, well I heard you’ve been going on the sunbed in your kit to get those lines.
We got to make it through today first boys.
(Looks uncomfortable) ‘Scuse me Johnny…. er…. I gotta….
Lenny ducks out from under Johnny’s arm. The camera follows him as he walks through the car park and towards the busy HQ. Through the doors, Lenny darts left into the WC, camera goes straight ahead into a small office.
2) INT. RACE HQ
Two senior Commissaires sit looking at the course map. They look serious.
Remember Oakenclough in ’07? 65 riders left from the neutral zone that day. Picked off like flies, they was. Unprepared. Only 14 eventually made it over that line, and of those, 2 never raced again. Never seen a headwind like it, hope I never will again.
You think we’re heading to a bloodbath, Fred?
(Folds the map and stares into the middle distance) I don’t know Stan, I just don’t know.
3) EXT. CAR PARK – END OF RIDER BREIFING
… OK, now don’t throw your empty gel wrappers on the road, you’re not in the Tour de France. If the broom wagon goes past you, you’re on your own out there. And, and this is serious, if we see you resting your arms on the centre of your bars we’ll pull the whole race. No question. Good luck out there! Oh, and one last thing before we start. We know there's going to be bandits on the course. At some point, there’s 10,000 sportive riders going to be coming at you in the opposite direction. Now, we don’t know where, so just be aware and keep your eyes peeled for riders with their numbers on the front, not the back.
Do we get extra license points for taking any of them out?
(Smiles) No lad, just the warm glow of a job well done.
The riders start to roll slowly out of the car park and to the neutral zone in the washed out late September light. Lost in their own thoughts, the scene is unnaturally quiet, but for the clicking of gears and the quiet whirr of a Di2 motor. There is a growing sense of foreboding. Jack grabs Johnny’s arm.
Tell me the truth, Johnny. The truth. You scared, Johnny?
(Grins) Scared! We’re too stupid to be scared!
Jack grins in relief, claps Johnny on the arm and rides off. Camera stays on Johnny’s face as his smile drops and he looks to the ground.
4) EXT. ROAD - NEUTRAL ZONE
The riders are rolling slowly in a bunch along a country lane. Johnny sees Bill near the rear of the group and drops back to talk to his teammate.
We’re nearly there! Just this last race, then it’s the off-season Billy boy! Just think, when you’re back home kissing your girl and drinking a beer, with a big fat pizza in front of you – how sweet to know you earned it, you deserve it! We’ll be like heroes Bill!
(Looks uncomfortable) Sometimes I wish the season would never end. Hell, Johnny, I don’t know if I got what it takes to make it back in the real world. Here I feel I belong, or somethin’. (Rubs back of neck) You should know - I signed up for the Track League.
(Aghast) Track? Bill, that’s suicide! Those guys don’t have gears or brakes or nothin’! I've heard there's a German rides track, quads so big he could snap a man clean in two!
It’s just somthin’ I gotta do Johnny. I don’t expect you to understand. (Gets out of saddle and rides away, looking back over his shoulder) I guess I’ll see you on the finish line.
Bill rides away, Johnny staring open-mouthed after him.