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Kings of the Mountains: How Colombia's Cycling Heroes Changed Their Nation's History [Paperback]

Matt Rendell
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
Price: £6.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Book Description

22 May 2003
"Kings of the Mountains" tells the amazing and little-known story of how an impoverished, politically turbulent Latin American country produced a breed of cyclist capable of taking on the world's best - in the 2002 Tour de France the top Colombian rider Santiago Botero beat even the great Lance Armstrong to win the time trial. Matt Rendell tells of how Colombia's fist cycle races during the 50s were held on dusty, unpaved roads - with consequentially ghastly accidents; of how the first top Europeans to race in Colombia found themselves utterly vanquished by its endless mountain climbs; of how the biography of Colombia's first cycling superstar was written by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Then, in the 70s and 80s, its cyclists began to make their mark abroad, even in the Tour de France - especially as victors in its draining mountain stages, to become King of the Mountains - before Colombia's pathological political instability led to the rise of the cocaine cartels, and cycling became inextricably linked with the world of drug smuggling.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Aurum Press Ltd; New edition edition (22 May 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1854109111
  • ISBN-13: 978-1854109118
  • Product Dimensions: 19.2 x 12.8 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 52,489 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'Wonderfully evocative' - Independent on Sunday; 'Thrilling reading... a fascinating national sporting history' - Times Literary Supplement; 'A fascinating and beguiling book... worthy of the magical realism of Gabriel Garcia Marquez' - William Fotheringham, Cycling Plus

About the Author

Matt Rendell is a journalist for Pro Cycling magazine and a TV producer for ITV's Tour de France coverage, and made an acclaimed Channel 4 documentary also called Kings of the Mountains. He lives in Essex.

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Well researched and well written account of the history of cycle racing in a country where it is the national sport. If you've seen the Tour de France or even ridden up some of the mountains, then you can still only imagine what some of the climbs in the Vuelta must be like. If you're interested in Colombia or in cycle racing, you won't regret buying this book.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More than just a book about cycling 30 July 2003
This book is an extraordinary account of the cycling history of Columbia, featuring its big names like Zipa and Cochise, but it is masterfully woven in with the story of this troubled country's search for identity and democracy. The tales of the Vuelta make your heart pound in symapthy as the riders gasp for air in their titanic struggle up the mountains, and you cannot help but appreciate the metaphor for this rich but deeply unhappy country and its journey through coups and drug-lords to where it is now. A book for cycling enthusiasts, Latin America fans and people who want a good read.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Some of My Heroes Were Colombian Cyclists. 18 April 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Anyone who has read my reviews will be forgiven for thinking that 'All my heroes are cowboys'. Well a lot of them are, but there are also a few cyclists amongst them, one being Lucho Herrera a rider from Colombia who was only the second rider to win "king of the mountains" jerseys in all three grand tours. He wore the distinctive 'Cafe De Colombia' shirt with great success during the eighties. My first memory of him was when he seemed to sprout wings and glide away from everyone to victory on the ascent of Alpe d'Huez on stage 17 in the 1984 Tour De France. After this I was constantly noticing how the 'Cafe De Colombia' shirt was always prominent during the gruelling mountain stages. These mystery men from Colombia attacked in the most ridiculous places, and reputations meant nothing to them. Fabio Parra finished third overall in the 1988 Tour De France, a magnificent achievement. I have always wondered how this relatively poor country managed to produce such a wealth of great cyclists, and this book provided me with all the answers in an informative and entertaining way.

These men competed in Colombia's own grand tour, the Vuelta a Colombia over ridiculous terrain and ascents that makes those on the Tour de France look like a cakewalk. Almost all the great Europeans who competed in this event were utterly destroyed by the terrain and altitude, including most notably the great Fausto Coppi. It was fascinating to find out how much cycling is loved in Colombia and how it has influenced the country. But there were other great cyclists apart from Herrera and Parra who came from a dynasty of great cyclists. There was the legendary Cochise, the indomitable Zipa, Ramon Hoyos, whose biography was written by none other than Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars revelations 17 Jan 2006
aving grown up in Germany in proximity of the Tour de France, I had heard of Lucho Herrera. Being Catholic and a student of politics this book is a facinating summary of beauty, struggle, faith and stubborn confiction. Having read it I want to learn Spansih and see this facinating country with my own eyes and breath its thin Andean air. Brilliant.
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