Jonathan “JV” Vaughters runs the United State’s oldest professional cycling team, an international organization of over 120 riders and staff that race across the globe. A former pro and teammate of Lance Armstong, JV founded the team as a repudiation of cycling’s rampant culture of doping. Over the course of a decade, he built a squad that competes at the highest level–drug free.
In 2020, after sweeping the top three spots at the season’s first major race, Tour Colombia, his team appears poised to capture cycling’s most coveted prize: a win at the 21- day odyssey of the Tour de France. JV’s top rider, Rigoberto “Rigo” Urán, a Colombian superstar, is returning to form after a catastrophic injury. He is accompanied by two acolytes and countrymen, Dani Martinez and Sergio Higuita, both of whom would sacrifice themselves to place Rigo on the podium. A pair of U.S. riders, TeJay van Garderen, a steely veteran and father of two young girls with nine tours under his belt, and Neilson Powless, a doe-eyed newcomer, complete the ensemble. Enter the Slipstream lives within the world of JV and this band of riders during a year of insecurity and potential, voyaging from Colombia to Spain and onto France, where they fight their way from the Cote-d’Azur through 3,000 kilometers of French countryside all the way to Paris. Through victories and heartbreaks, these young men ceaselessly pedal forward while JV maintains a brave face and hides the secret that could tear the team apart.
Along the journey, we discover why the Tour de France is not so much a race as a cultural institution. We learn about the sport’s fragile economics, made only more vulnerable by a coronavirus settling like dust across the planet. And we take inspiration from seeing how the seemingly solitary activity of riding a bike competitively is an act of teamwork in the purest form.