10 best cycling movies ever

To celebrate cycling's Road World Championships getting under way, here's our favourite bike movies...

It's the UCI Road World Championships this week, with Mark Cavendish looking for glory in Sunday's race. In anticipation of that, here are the finest cycling movies of all time in no particular order...

Breaking Away (1979)

Small-town boys versus college jerks, a cyclist obsessed with Italians, and some of the best fictional road-bike action ever committed to film. It'll make you want to find an old Masi Gran Criterium, chase lorries and start talking Italian. "Ciao, Papa!"

A Sunday In Hell (1976)

Jørgen Leth's stunning follow-up to 1974's The Stars and the Water Carriers is a documentary about the 1976 Paris-Roubaix, one of the cycling calendar's legendary fixtures. Leth captures the drama, heartbreak and torturous conditions alongside an atmospheric score. Most of road-racing's '70s elite are present and correct, but if you're looking for a demonstration of the all-conquering Eddy Merckx at his locomotive best, Leth's earlier film will appeal more.

American Flyers (1985)

Although Kevin Costner's moustache is the undoubted star of the show, the cycling action comes a worthy second. Brothers David and Marcus (Costner) do some bonding by competing together in a road race through the Rockies. If you're turned on by such things, Rae Dawn Chong's super-fast wheel change is another highlight, as is a fleeting appearance by racing legend Eddy Merckx.

Les Triplettes de Belville (2003)

A French cartoon comedy with no dialogue? Er… Quelle surprise, this is utterly charming and engrossing. A young boy, brought up by his grandmother to race in the Tour de France, is kidnapped partway through the race. Granny and her dog enlist the help of a trio of old-time entertainers to track him down. Far more bonkers than it sounds.

2 Seconds (1998)

Professional mountain biker Laurie gets fired from her team and becomes a cycle courier. This being a French Canadian movie, you'll have to put up with subtitles – but the quirky story is well worth paying attention to, and there's plenty of cycling action to fill the rest of the time.