Documentary: Mitch Docker traces the route of Claudio Chiappucci’s famous 1992 Tour de France raid
Docker explores the route, characters and difficulty of the mythical stage 13 epic where 'El Diablo' took on an audacious solo mission across five famous Alpine climbs
Junior Writer - North America
The 1992 Tour de France had a stage that would send shivers down the spines of the cyclists of the modern peloton.
Col des Saisies, the Cormet de Roselend, the Col de l’Iseran, the Col du Mont Cenis, and the brutal final climb up to Sestriere. At 255km and with 7,000 metres of climbing, it's the kind of stage that has now become a relic of the past. Stages are never that hard anymore.
And yet, that eye-watering route had one Italian rider licking his lips: Claudio Chiappucci, also known as 'El Diablo'.
In this GCN+ documentary, Mitch Docker delves into the solo raid that Chiappucci took on that day, not only looking back at the characters but also by riding the course himself – with the same bike and kit that El Diablo rode to the win on the stage.
© Velo Collection (TDW) / Getty Images
Mitch Docker in the classic Carrera kit, complete with the denim coloured shorts
Joining Mitch is a cast of the Italian’s contemporaries, including his manager Guiseppe Martinelli, cycling journalist and former competitor Philippa York and legendary commentator Phil Liggett. We also hear from Chiappucci himself.
Of all the characters who summed up the crux of that mythical day, one man etched the day’s narrative in the mind of many with his descriptions of the solo raid many would think is impossible.
“I think if the peloton saw that today they would say, ‘I’m not going,’” Phil Liggett said of that legendary day in 1992. “For example, the Tour de France in 2023 hardly had a stage over 200 kilometres, that's the way it is.”
“Fast can be exciting, and long can be very boring, but on that day it was far from boring. It was ‘will he or won't he,’ man versus the mountains – and the peloton was hoping the mountains would win.”
Of the descriptions of the man who achieved the feat, however, the best came from his former team director.
“Claudio has one hell of an engine, he was basically a tractor,” Martinelli said. “He could grind everyone down over any terrain.”
All of this was in the front of Mitch’s mind as he took on the challenge of his hardest ride. Despite a long and successful career in the professional peloton Mitch never actually raced the Tour de France and saw this project as a reconnection with his childhood fandom.
Watch the full documentary to see what Mitch finds out about himself, cycling and the myth of Claudio Chiappucci in the 1992 Tour, all while trying to get through an extreme physical challenge along the way.
1992: Following El Diablo is out now on GCN+. Watch on-demand and explore our extensive collection of exclusive and original cycling films.
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Junior Writer - North America
Logan Jones-Wilkins is GCN’s North American junior writer. From Denver, Colorado, he covers North American and European cycling for the website.