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Land of Second Chances: The Impossible Rise of Rwanda's Cycling Team

Land of Second Chances: The Impossible Rise of Rwanda's Cycling Team [Kindle Edition]

Tim Lewis
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

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Product Description


"Fascinating... not a typical rags to riches, triumph against adversity tale... Lewis does a fine job of unpicking a tangled narrative" (Observer)

"A remarkable story... attempts to import the Lycra-clad, precision-engineered world of the Tour de France into rural Africa form the heart of this absorbing book...Team Rwanda's story could have been edited into an uplifting tale of unlikely success, with Niynoshuti's Olympic appearance as the rousing finale. Instead this is a more complicated, darker, account." (Financial Times)

"A century after the Race for Africa ended, a century after Imperial Europe carved up Africa into colonial enclaves, the race is on to find Africa's first black world-class cyclist. Land of Second Chances is an important chronicle of just some of the early stages of that race. It's not just a book about what has happened in the past, it's a book about what is just around the corner for cycling as the long, slow project of mondialisation approaches another milestone. If being a fantastic read isn't enough for you then that ought be a good reason to read Lewis's book" (Podium Cafe)

"This is not a book solely about cycling. it is a book that combines hope with tragedy and success with failure. But ultimately it's a book that holds a mirror to our western sporting ideals" (Washing Machine Post)

"Lewis is a reporter of rare skill and he writes with wit and verve. It is by turns horrifying, moving and unexpectedly funny. It's also the sports book of the year by a backcountry mile" (Alex Bilmes Esquire)

Book Description

The astonishing true story of the Rwandan Cycling Team

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 4558 KB
  • Print Length: 308 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Digital (1 Aug 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #65,344 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
By emma who reads a lot TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
There's nothing like Rwandan genocide for getting the gentle reader to shift around on their bum a little bit wondering if they would actually prefer to read something else... but once you get going this is a very intriguing book.

Tim Lewis spent time in Rwanda to look at the story of the cycle team based there, headed by star rider Adrien Niyonshuti, coached by disgraced top American Jock Boyer, and funded by mountain bike innovator Tom Ritchey. If you read the American reviews posted here from, you'd think this book was a simple heartwarming and uplifting story of redemption and recovery in the face of atrocity, but I actually think it's much more subtle than that. It raises a lot of questions.

There is an uneasy path to be walked dealing with the Rwandans; in particular the issue of Hutu-Tutsi lines, and the profound questions of truth, forgiveness and reconciliation as managed by everyday people there. There is an unforgettable moment where Lewis meets Adrien's sister (who runs a café) and watches her dealing with a customer who was involved in the genocide. Some of these 'side stories' were amongst the best bits of the book for me - I also loved Daniel the 'could-have-been-a-contender' cyclist who now runs a barber shop, for economic reasons. And I particularly loved the Tom Ritchey chapter, light relief after the horrors of the genocide chapter- suddenly there are jokes! Phew!

There are a whole series in fact of other intriguing side routes - who knew that Chris Froome's bilharzia was simply the most currently famous of a whole series of tropically diseased cyclists?
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vivid portraits and a remarkable journey 5 Aug 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Land of Second Chances is focused on three intriguing characters: One of the founders of mountain biking, cycle manufacturer Tom Ritchey; the first American to ride in the Tour de France, trainer Jock Boyer; and Adrien Niyonshuti, a Rwandan cyclist who overcame the murder of his six brothers (and many other dreadful experiences) to become Rwanda's first professional sportsman - assisted by Ritchey and Boyer.

But this is much more than a tripartite biography. Lewis contextualises Niyonshuti's journey with a recent Rwandan history - concentrating on the genocide but also sketching political developments. We learn about Niyonshuti's contemporaries both in Rwanda and elsewhere in Sub-Saharan Africa as Lewis rigorously deciphers the immense cultural dissimilarities between the West and Rwanda, including some insightful and sometimes comic anecdotes.

Middle- and long-distance running are dominated by athletes from Eastern Africa, and anticipating a change in the racial makeup of competitors in the Grand Tours, Lewis asks: why not cycling? He also attempts to unpick the will-to-win inherent in the Rwandan team, and analyses the difficulties of transplanting a Western training methodology into central Africa.

I found the panoply of names, dates and races three quarters of the way through slightly confusing, and the genocide means a sad undercurrent runs through the book, but despite the tragedy underpinning life in Rwanda I finished the book feeling hope and anticipation for the future of Niyonshuti and his compatriots. This is a vivid, sometimes shocking, always absorbing story told with the stolid journalistic dexterity and clarity one might expect from a Guardian and Observer feature writer.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book 4 Sep 2013
By Gh
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I bought this book after hearing the author on talksport. Great read.
Definitely recommend it and not necessarily just those interested in cycling.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awe-inspiring 5 Nov 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
After all the "aren't we great" and then the "dirty laundry" cycling books that have emerged over the last decade, this is possibly the greatest cycling book ever written. Quite simply it transcends the sport. It has often been said that cyclists enjoy pain and suffering more than enjoyment itself, however no pain and suffering can equal that experienced by the key players in Lewis' remarkable recount of the rise of Rwandan Cycling - from the epiphany of Jock Boyer, the rise of Adrien, Abraham and Rifiki, the vision of Tom Ritchey. It really is up there with the greatest tales of human achievement in the face of adversity, I am thinking of a parallel to the likes of the story of the Argentinian rugby team that inpspired Alive.
This really is a book that willmake you sit and think things over in your head, raises so many questions and makes you realise that if these people can move on, reconcile and reconstruct their country and lives after such horror, then what have we to worry about, really?
Thanks so much to Tim Lewis and all those involved in Project Rwanda and Team Rwanda.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must ride for anyone interested in cycling 17 Oct 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I thought Tour de France riders like Bradley Wiggins had a tough life until I read this book. Then I discovered - to my amazement - that Rwanda has a strong cycling culture, but one that has been held back by the country's poverty. The author has written an accessible story that I found completely compelling, which tells the story of some amazing African cyclists, some complicated but well-meaning Americans, and gives a snapshot of the West's troubled attempts to help poor countries.

A must-read for anyone who likes cycling, drinks coffee (it plays a big role here) or is interested in Africa.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent book
This is a fantastic book. If you have even a remote interest in Africa, development or cycling (I tick all these boxes) then you will find this hard to put down. Read more
Published 13 days ago by Luke
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great read and inspiring as I am about to tackle Mont Ventoux
Published 27 days ago by Mr Matthew Farman
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent account of the Rwanda cycling team and the challenges ...
Excellent account of the Rwanda cycling team and the challenges experienced in trying to move these athletes forward. Read more
Published 28 days ago by Brad
5.0 out of 5 stars True Olympic dream
Heard about this book about Rwanda cycling through a radio interview with its main character. It is hard to see how sport succeeds in the region of such genocide. Inspiring story
Published 4 months ago by Jambro
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read
Bought as a gift for a keen cyclist who found it an interesting and enlightening read. Yes I would recommend it
Published 6 months ago by TF
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Story
Really enjoyed finding out about Team Rwanda and all the interesting characters. It will be great to see what happens next.
Published 6 months ago by PaulD
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
I really enjoyed this book - fascinating, absorbing and inspiring. So much more than just a book about cycling. Highly recommended!
Published 10 months ago by bertdk
5.0 out of 5 stars top read not just the cycling but the whole story of a country and...
Hardly able to put this down great read really uplifting story that shows what untapped potential Africa truly has to offer the world
Published 10 months ago by Kev Burnham
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly remarkable book
Land of Second Chances by Tim Lewis is the kind of rare book that shows what sports writing can do. It's the story of the surprising creation of a national cycling team in Rwanda,... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Oliver1974
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
An amazing story of endeavour against odds. Interesting, and contentious, personalities brought to life against a back drop of horrific genocide. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Rupert Lewis
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