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The Tour de France kicked off on Saturday (FYI: it won’t start in France, nor finish in Paris this year), which, in turn, kicked off the Tour de Fleece, which, in turn, means that fiber folk are primed to feast their eyes on cycling content while their hands are otherwise occupied.

Netflix stepped into that void in 2023 because it desperately wanted to capture the lucrative handspinner demographic with a series designed just for them. Or something like that.

Tour de France Unchained is in the mold of Drive to Survive, Full Swing, and Break Point. They all share the same production crew and vibe.

You don’t have to like the sport in question to become deeply invested in the athletes and teams competing. TdF Unchained is closer to Drive to Survive (my personal favorite) than the others, however. Cycling at this level is a team sport like Formula 1. The money and egos are big.

You don’t need to know all that much about the Tour de France itself. Know that most of the riders aren’t contenders for the win and exist to serve the few riders who are. Know that the peloton is relentless and always lurks. Know that the yellow jersey is a sign of success but doesn’t mean you’ll win the whole fromage. And know that the gossip is almost its own separate sport.

The two seasons of Tour de France Unchained are very much about competitive dudes being both competitive and dudes. There is swearing. There is talk of bathing suit areas and what the bike seats are doing to same. There is swagger and machismo. You can almost smell the sweat, to say nothing of the funk of that many dudes in one bus after each day’s stage.

But it is also very much about working as a team to do something incredibly hard, which can show you more about the human drive to push limits than a written story ever could. That’s where the real magic is, in seeing and hearing and (almost) smelling what it takes to win.

If you Knit (or Spin) to This, be sure to watch the dubbed version, otherwise the subtitles might make you nutty when trying to count stitches.

About The Author

Adrienne Martini, the author of Somebody’s Gotta Do It, would love to talk with you about the importance of running for elected office or about all of the drama of holding a seat on the Board of Representatives in Otsego County, New York. Adrienne blogs when the spirit moves her at Martini Made.


  • I’ll watch this later, but currently I am fully occupied watching the Tour itself, shown in real time for several hours every day on Peacock TV. It’s great knittting TV, as I can tell from the excitement in the commentators voices when I really need to be watching for some breakaway move or crash in the peloton, and the scenery is always stunning so whenever I look up I see glorious views.

    My husband got me hooked on the Tour many years ago, and it is why I am a most productive knitter in July. Thanks for reminding me to rewatch season 1 of Unchained, and I’m looking forward to the second season prolonging my best knitting next winter as well.

    • Every July (except for the one year I got to see it in person) finds me in my chair, cat on my lap, knitting in hand watching the coverage with Bob and Phil. Love every minute!

  • I rewatched Season 1 and watched Season 2 in preparation of the 2024 TDF. If you have a project you can work on while reading subtitles, I recommend watching the subtitle version as the emotions really come across.

    • I also prepared for tdf 2024 by watching Unchained season 2, also Cavendish, and the ESPN 30×30 Lance Armstrong now on Netflix. Maybe in best viewing shape ever! Sadly, had to redo shakerag skirt short rows over … Twice. So much heartbreak in the Tour de France 🙂

  • Le Tour is always compelling!
    I dropped a few stitches yesterday watching Mark Cavendish struggle! So glad he made it!
    It’s fun to know there are other folks watching and knitting!

  • I’ve knit many things to Tour replays on YouTube. I recommend it, and it’s usually in English—no subtitles.

  • July knitting during the Tour is the best! The scenery is so beautiful, and I’m always amazed by the riders competing so hard day after day.

  • Great summary of the Tour. Now I am intrigued by the “gossip”. I have watched for years , never attended , met some of the world class riders in California , have a rider in this tour from my city, Roseville, also cycle for excercise w my husband on a Tandum ( great fun) But have missed out on the gossip . More to look forward to.

  • I got hooked on Formula 1 just watching Drive to Survive and I thought I hated race cars. Now there is the possibility to get hooked on cycling with this next series! The producers of these Netflix series know what they are doing. It’s like watching the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills but with Testosterone. You can’t look away.

    • I agree! I was in Adelaide when the Formula One race was there in the early 90’s and hated the disruption, noise etc. so was reluctant to watch Drive to Survive but it is so dramatic, lol!

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