Richard Linklater referred to this film as one of his prime influences while making Everybody Wants Some and it's easy to see why.
This has so many great things: a fantastic coming of age story, a riveting sports drama, and a great college flick all rolled into one fantastic package. Like most Linklater films, its uplifting without trying too hard, with nothing feeling forced or dramatic for the sake of being dramatic. Its simply about a group of friends struggling with insecurity, adolescent identity and adulthood, while trying to win a bike race.
Breaking Away's greatest assets are its plentiful humour, naturally developed characters and the beautiful sense of community it creates around Bloomington, IN. All the little interactions between the residents create a wonderful, realistically charming setting that ties everything together.
Thought I'd finally watch this for its 40th anniversary, and I loved it. Great story, great performances, funny, moving, everything you could want. A minor classic.