Dramatic Tour de France stage coming to Hertford Theatre

PUBLISHED: 15:57 15 May 2017 | UPDATED: 15:59 15 May 2017

Ventoux is coming to Hertford Theatre [Picture: Julian Hughes]

Ventoux is coming to Hertford Theatre [Picture: Julian Hughes]

Archant

With the 2017 Tour de France fast approaching, why not cycle over to Hertford for a dramatic restaging of the race between Lance Armstrong and Marco Pantani?

Ventoux can be seen at Hertford TheatreVentoux can be seen at Hertford Theatre

Ventoux rides into Hertford Theatre on Thursday, May 25.

It tells the story of the two giants of cycling who climbed Mount Ventoux in a dramatic battle to win Stage 12 of the Tour de France in 2000.

Lance Armstrong went on to win the Tour that year, and a further five in the years that followed before being stripped of his titles, while Marco Pantani never raced in the Tour again and died of an overdose four years later.

The production is performed with two road bikes, real race commentary and stunning film footage captured by the theatre company as they cycled up the notorious mountain.

Ventoux is coming to Hertford Theatre [Picture: Julian Hughes]Ventoux is coming to Hertford Theatre [Picture: Julian Hughes]

The play recreates the 60-minute conflict with all the benefit of hindsight, charting the parallels of the riders’ early careers and the stark split in fortunes following the race.

Tom Barnes, artistic director of 2Magpies Theatre, said: “I really got into cycling in a big way in 2012 when Bradley Wiggins won the Tour de France, and I began to look back through some of the greatest races and came across the 2000 Tour de France and Armstrong and Pantani.

“The way the story played out is so theatrical in itself that it seemed perfect for retelling on stage with this new angle of hindsight.

“We’ve had a lot of cycling fans come and see it – it’s brilliant to see.”

Ventoux is coming to Hertford Theatre [Picture: Julian Hughes]Ventoux is coming to Hertford Theatre [Picture: Julian Hughes]

Mont Ventoux has become legendary in the Tour de France as one of the most gruelling climbs in the race.

It has a history that has inspired a solemn reverence of the ‘Giant of Provence’, from the death of English cyclist Tim Simpson 50 years ago to the spectacular crash last year which left eventual winner Chris Froome jogging several hundred yards until he could get a replacement bike.

Tributes are still left to Tim Simpson on the mountainside.

Ventoux premiered at Summerhall at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2015 and toured widely in 2016, attracting a high percentage of new audiences to theatres big and small.

Ventoux at Hertford Theatre [Picture: Julian Hughes]Ventoux at Hertford Theatre [Picture: Julian Hughes]

The roles are taken on by Alexander Gatehouse, playing Armstrong, and Tom Barnes, who, as well as being artistic director, will play Pantani.

A Hertford Theatre spokeswoman said: “We’ve been thrilled at the response from local cycling clubs so far.

“It should be a great night and we are hoping to sell out.”

2Magpies Theatre is a Nottingham-based company that explores topical and political issues.

Ventoux can be seen at Hertford TheatreVentoux can be seen at Hertford Theatre

It was founded by Tom Barnes and Matt Wilks, who graduated with MAs in International Security and Terrorism in 2013.

Their previous show, The Litvinenko Project, explored the poisoning of the Russian dissident, and their next show, Last Resort, about the detention of terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay, will premiere at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Ventoux can be seen at Hertford Theatre on Thursday, May 25, at 7.45pm.

Tickets cost £13, £11 concessions, or £9 for groups of 10 plus.

Visit www.hertfordtheatre.com or call the box office 01992 531500.

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