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Born to Ride: The Autobiography of Stephen Roche [Hardcover]

Stephen Roche
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
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Book Description

7 Jun 2012

On 6 September 1987, Stephen Roche touched greatness. Victory at the World Cycling Championship in Austria completed a near-unprecedented 'triple crown' that included triumphs in the same year at the Tour de France and the Giro d'Italia. In April, against all odds, he fought his own team and an angry, partisan Italian crowd who spat at him on his way to taking the Giro. In July a superhuman effort at La Plagne saw him secure the yellow jersey just before he blacked out. Roche's victory in Austria confirmed his virtuosity.

Born to Ride, Stephen Roche's first full autobiography, uses his best year as the starting point to explore the rest of his life. He doesn't hold back as he examines the many ups and downs of his time on and off the bike, scrutinising victories, defeats, rivals, serious injury, doping allegations and agonizing family breakdown.

At the heart of the book lies an enigma. For all his charm and rare, natural talent, beneath the surface lies an incredible tenacity and determination. Roche finally reveals himself as a smiling assassin; a master-strategist who lives to attack.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Yellow Jersey; First Edition edition (7 Jun 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0224091905
  • ISBN-13: 978-0224091909
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 15.6 x 3.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 259,241 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"One of the most riveting sporting biographies I've read for ages" (Herald)

"While most people focus on his famous year in 1987, it's often forgotten just how precocious a cyclist Roche was early on in his entertaining read" (John Whitney Bike Radar)

"Fascinating.a compelling read" (Cycling Shorts)

"The intimacy and tone of a fireside chat - possibly lubricated with a generous nightcap" (Daniel Friebe Outdoor Fitness)

"Highly recommended" (Cycling World)

Book Description

The first full autobiography of Irish cycling legend Stephen Roche, who in 1987 defied all odds to win cycling's 'triple crown'

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Born to Ride 24 Jun 2012
By Yorkie
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The highlight of Roche's autobiography unsurprisingly lies in the highlight of his career - 1987 when he won touched greatness and joined Eddy Merckx as the only winners of cycling's Triple Crown (Tour de France, Giro d'Italia and World Championship Road Race). Sensibly the book grabs your attention by beginning at the heart of the action in 1987. It then switches back to Roche's early life and progresses chronologically to today.

His account of 1987 is particularly detailed and insightful. The book also provides a glimpse at events surrounding his career generally and developments since his retirement. Particularly emotional and striking is his young son's battle against Leukemia.

In this reviewer's opinion, however, in contrast to his career, Roche's autobiography fails to touch greatness in a number of respects.

Firstly, to my surprise (as someone who found Stephen particularly engaging on his TV screen back in the 1980s and early 1990s), Roche doesn't come across as the most sympathetic of characters. He is, by his own admission, opinionated and assertive in his views - perhaps too much so at times. His treatment of a lot of events also comes across as somewhat superficial - to my surprise I found myself warming much more to Bjarne Riis when I read his own recent autobiography.

Also by his own admission, Roche is very hard on his son, the cyclist, Nicholas. He wastes no time in criticising his son's approach to cycling and castigating him for not adopting his views on cycling. To me this was somewhat troubling in light of the next point.

Whilst Roche does discuss doping in his book, the treatment came across to me as somewhat superficial.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A typical cycling autobiography. 1 Aug 2012
By franny
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I thought this book by Stephen Roche was okay but found it very slow to get going and I was fairly glad when I had finished it. Like most cyclists' biographies and autobiographies it is really just a recollection of all the races they took part in, pedal by pedal and that can become a little tedious. The glimpses of his family life were just that glimpses and I feel it would have been a more interesting story if there had been more personal/family content, but that's not what he intended obviously. You have to be a really dedicated cyclist or cycling fan to fully appreciate this book but having said that good on him for having written it himself.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An interesting insight into the cycling world 21 Mar 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The second of only two men to have completed the triple crown, A well written account of a professional cyclists career with the highs and lows. Thoroughly enjoyable.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Stephen Roche 5 Nov 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Enjoyed the book and the insight it gave to proffesional cycle racing. It indicated how hard these cyclists work and the chances they take in races.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tour de Force 27 July 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I'm a sucker for sporting bio's so it was easy to pick this out as a winner especially during the 2012 Tour de France. Honest and riveting I never regretted buying this book.
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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Triple Crown 8 Jun 2012
Have you ever dreamt about sitting down with a relaxing glass of wine and spending an evening just chatting cycling with a former World Champion? What if you could spend time with a Triple Crown winner? Well, that's how reading the new book by Stephen Roche `Born to Ride' felt to me. It gave me the distinct impression that I was having an intimate conversation with one of the all-time greats in the world of cycling.

The stories and the thoughts behind the action in the book are fascinating. Stephen's personal views of the nature and culture of cycling in the 1980s-the teams, the Directors Sportif, the teammates and the rivals are the needed details. They fill in gaps in the urban legends and the well-documented stories that have become the lore of cycling. To be allowed into the depths of that world, just a bit, is a compelling read and well worth the price of admission.

Setting the stage with the details and drama of the World Championships of 1987, Stephen Roche narrates the tale of that fateful day, bone-numbingly wet, riding the circuit course at Villach, Austria. "During these early laps I am just staying in the wheels, sheltering from the wind behind other riders, freewheeling almost. That's obviously an exaggeration, but that's how easy I want it to feel, so that I can save everything I can for the end." The winning strategy, the gear choices, the details of the day are the simple things, like putting on three rain jackets layered upon each other, that make for a build up that seems so very personal and intriguing. It also makes a fascinating read for fans of cycling and of sports psychology.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not for me 17 July 2012
I bought this book because I am a massive cycling fan and keen cyclist. Now granted I am not an admirer of Roche firstly my first tour was 1989 so I don't really have a grasp on how amazing a year 87 must of been for those who actually saw the events unfold. What amazed me the most about this book is the lack of a personal journey the man seems to have had, he comes across as harsh, abrasive and in his minds eye never wrong, His toughness on his son is very telling, Im sure young Roche has enough Daddy issues as it is being in the same line of work but destined never to achieve as much but to put your own son down in writing was shoddy to say the least. Makes you wonder what he would rather have you not knowing about him.

Unlike the Riis and Fignon biographies where you actually came out with a far better perspective and understanding of cyclists who were not overly popular in their day I was left feeling no better towards Roche.

As for all the doping this will follow Roche until he dies, my harsh opinion is he probably did know about doping how could he not, its like top bankers saying I had no idea this was going on, we are talking about elite operators here, people at the roof of their professions and as a team leader of course he knew. Did he do it? We will never know and he will never tell.

He come across as very ungenerous.
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