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In Pursuit of Stardom: Les Nomades du Velo Anglais [Paperback]

Tony Hewson
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
RRP: 12.95
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Book Description

1 Mar 2006
For much of cycling's "Fabulous Fifties" it was Brian Robinson alone who flew the flag for Britain abroad - that is until three young men set out to emulate his success, starting from ground zero. This book tells the story of how, along with fellow Yorkshireman Vic Sutton and South Londoner John Andrew, the intrepid Tony Hewson set off to conquer the European racing scene, first off in an old, battered, converted ex-WD ambulance, then in an oil-leaking pre-war Wolseley with a caravan in tow. Variously mistaken for gypsies, terrorists, undertakers, even market traders, these were our original cash-starved, have-a-go pioneers, whose inspiration prompted Tom Simpson and succeeding generations of would-be stars to cross the Channel. It is an often hilarious sometimes sad but never bitter saga of daring-do that found the trio rubbing shoulders with Coppi, Anquetil, Van Looy and the other greats of the era. It tells of how Andrews won a place in the prestigious Mercier-BP trade team and of how Sutton conquered the headlines with a brilliant display of climbing in the mountaains of the 1959 Tour and its relates Hewson's own pickings of primes and placings in after-Tour criteriums. It also provides a wonderfully evocative insight into what life was like in France and Belgium back in that far-off era.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 258 pages
  • Publisher: Mousehold Press (1 Mar 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1874739412
  • ISBN-13: 978-1874739418
  • Product Dimensions: 20.6 x 15 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 223,140 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'Read it and you'll be instantly transported back to a golden age of our sport. You'll get the whiff of embrocation in your nostrils.' Roger St Pierre, Cycling Plus

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Customer Reviews

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4.9 out of 5 stars
4.9 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sublime period saga 28 Oct 2007
One of the best bike culture books I have read. To have the dream and eventually to live the dream in post war Europe is testimony to the extraordinary ambition of these three/four racers. Atmospheric and sensitively written with great humility in having achieved what so many can only contemplate. A beautiful read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Continental Cyclists - the pioneers 28 Jan 2007
As an ex cyclist I loved the description of the racing scene and enjoyed sharing the experience of life on the road in the fast lane. The brave step into the unknown (as it was in the 1950s) of Continental living and racing is recounted with feeling and the trials and tribulations are a good lesson in determination which can be applied to everyday life.

For many readers this book will reveal the racing successes of what might have been for themselves if they had grasped the continental handlebars. For others it provides an insight into the fortunes and resourcefulness of an intrepid bunch of pioneers living on their wits and skills in a foreign land. Like the early pioneers in the wagon trains crossing the US these men served as prime examples for the followers as they tackled the unknown. These followers now regularly take their racing wheels to the continent.

A must read for all who dream of continental racing.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
What a fantastic book. Have just finished reading this on my holiday and literally couldn't put it down.
It is one of the best - and, in places, funniest - cycling books that I have ever read. And I have read quite a few.
Tony Hewson transports you back to the go ol' days, before modern carbon fibre bikes and just a few gears to play with.
Never mind 11-speed bikes, Tony and his chums only had about four or five to use - and that didn't stop them reaching the lofty heights of competing in the Tour de France.
They didn't even bother with rest days or tapering for races. They rode hard, and hard all the time. At least until their bodies succumbed to riding 100-odd miles every day, as well as the stresses of travelling across a vast continent to compete for a pittance money-wise.
My dad brought me up with stories of the likes of Tony and a few other Brit cyclists, who dared to venture over the France to make a living out of riding a bike and trying to realise their dream of becoming professional cyclists.
All those lovely memories came flooding back with each turn of page.
I felt as thought I was along for the journey with Tony, Victor and Jock in that converted ambulance - Vive la coureur cycliste anglais.
I loved this book so much that I decided to email Tony to thank him for sharing his experiences with the public.

Here is his reply:

Dear James,
It was very kind of you to write. Though I get a surprisingly large amount of fan mail, it's an especial pleasure to hear from a professional journalist such as yourself whose opinion I value higher than most.
What another great day for British cycling in the mountains. I'm an old guy now, 78, and it's a lifetime's dream suddenly come true. And not just one star rider, but three!! Still rubbing my eyes.
Thank you.
Kind regards,
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brits Abroad 5 Nov 2010
By Col by
An excellent book, captures the almost innocence of the 50's and the true 'englishmen abroad'
Highly recommended
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars an excellent read 16 Feb 2007
this book made a subject I knew little about come alive, and I could not put it down.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a great read 29 Oct 2012
By Gemina
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Read, October 25, 2012
By Gemina - See all my reviews

This review is from: In Pursuit of Stardom (Paperback)
I'm usually resistant to books about sport. So it's a great tribute to the author that, for me, this book was pretty much un-put-down-able. It's an adventure story of three young Brits who, in the late-1950's dared to quit their jobs to try their luck as racing cyclists in France and Belgium at a time when the British were not greatly admired in the cycling world. But the book is much more than that, otherwise it wouldn't have maintained my interest. With great verve and humor, the narrative moves along rapidly, revealing along the way the extraordinary character, determination and gutsiness of these young men, and giving us also some astute insights into the history and the culture of France and Belgium during that time, as well as a vivid account of what it was like to be in the thick of the world of professional racing cycling.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Captivating 15 Oct 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Of all the cycling books I've bought, this is the only one I want to read over and over again. Forget the autobiographies of today's young riders like Mark Cavendish and Nicholas Roche... no disrespect to these great riders but their stories are just not a patch on Hewson's.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Engaging
Wonderful book. I really enjoyed it. Interesting to read about the European professional racing scene of the 50's and a group of British friends trying to break into it whilst... Read more
Published 9 days ago by S. Lowry
5.0 out of 5 stars For the Love of Their Sport
This is quite simply one of the best books I've ever read from any genre.

Captivating from start to finish, it is a tale about three friends who love their sport for... Read more
Published 13 months ago by John Halton
5.0 out of 5 stars Best cycling book I've read!
I'd bought this book a few weeks before heading off to ride Mont Ventoux so kept it for the SNCF journey down to the South of France and was really glad I had. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Ms E. R. Anderson
4.0 out of 5 stars As it was
I was in Belgium as an amateur at the same time and this is exactly as it was, this book kept the memories flooding back some good some not so good, but well worth the experience. Read more
Published on 25 Mar 2011 by don forrester
5.0 out of 5 stars Old school cyclists
This book was recommended by David Harmon on the Eurosport TDF coverage.Thanks David.
I have read many books on cycling, biogs/memoirs and this was a pleasure to read. Read more
Published on 12 Oct 2010 by bazspark
5.0 out of 5 stars A terrific story by a pioneer
Tony Hewson's story of his attempt to make the grade as a professional cyclist in Europe makes compelling reading. Read more
Published on 29 April 2009 by J. Richards
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