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Tour De France: The History, the Legend, the Riders [Paperback]

Graeme Fife
3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
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Book Description

30 Oct 2003
It is one of sport's toughest ordeals and the ultimate test for professional cyclists. The Tour de France sees riders pitted against all kinds of terrain and weather, in unrelenting competition with their rivals for three weeks. This entertaining book gives an insight into the mystique of the race and the unique fascination it has always exercised on devoted bike fans and occasional enthusiasts alike. It tells tales of great solo rides, amazing fortitude, terrible misfortune and triumph over the odds from the race's remarkable history, which began in July 1903. Within a few years, the Tour was taking the riders across the mountains of the Alps and Pyrenees and they had to carry out their own repairs, find their own food and drink and ride without support - a far cry from today's sophisticated organization. Combining meticulous research with a pacey narrative style, Fife paints a colourful picture of the men whose exploits have given the Tour an enduring universal appeal. "Tour de France" has been fully revised to include the 2003 race in the competition's Centenary year.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Mainstream Publishing; 4th Revised edition edition (30 Oct 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1840188065
  • ISBN-13: 978-1840188066
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 15.8 x 3.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,064,744 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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'...idiosyncratic history of what many believe is the hardest, cruellest experience sport has to offer...' The Independent 'Events...are never sensationalised for the sake of effect, which makes for a better read. All the "greats" of the Tour's 96 years are featured. Choose a name between Abdoujaparov and Zoeternelk and almost certainly it will be in the next index.' The Times --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

An all-encompassing history of the Tour de France that brings the story right up to date with all the action from the 2010 race --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Wanted: A good editor 28 Feb 2007
In amongst the words lies a really good read, detailing the history, the stories, the experiences. Unfortunately getting to them requires a great deal of effort, and as a keen cyclist but not on intimate terms with the history of the tour, it became increasingly frustrating trying to keep track of his ramblings.

Part of this was due to his attack on Paul Kimmage's Rough Ride where he abuses the author for breaking the rule of peleton by talking about doping. Frankly, after that, his credibility for me dived.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
The book changes radically half way through. I loved the first half of this book (4 stars) but would only give the second half 2 stars.

The first half is a description of the tour's great climbs which allows the author to delve into the fascinating history of this extraordinary event. So climbs in the Pyrenees give him the opportunity to pay homage to Fabio Casartelli who was killed in 1995 on a descent, the Mont Ventoux of course brings in Tommy Simpson. Eddy Mercx, Raymond Poulidor, Jacques Anquetil, Fausto Coppi, all the great names feature. Further back in the tour's history we come across extraordinary tales. For instance, the tour leader whose front forks broke on a descent. He carried the bike down the mountain until he found a village with a forge. He then welded new front forks from scratch, himself, completely unaided for the most part. This added hours to his time. Throughout this ordeal, he was watched by officials to ensure that he didn't get any assistance. He was then penalised an extra 20 minutes because he allowed a boy to help him by blowing bellows to fan the fire - something he could not possibly have done unaided. He continued, several hours behind the lead. Quite extraordinary resourcefulness. There are loads of stories like this. And Fife suffering the same climbs - albeit on better road surfaces and without the risk of being eaten by bears or being lost in a blizzard - bridges between these extraordinary people and what a good but not exceptional cyclist could do today. It works well and I was enthralled.

The main complaint so far is that the emphasis is on the mountain stages and not on the sprint stages or on the timetrials to anything like the smae extent. But I suppose that the drama of the mountains is the essence of the tour.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Rambling Prose 6 Mar 2003
By S. Down
I am no master of the pen but will try to keep to one subject per sentence. If Mr Fife had also tried to keep to this maxim I would have enjoyed the very entertaining stories in his book all the more.
On many occasions I was forced to re-read sections, as the prose darted off to introduce thoughts that were obviously circulating around the authors head and just had to be pinned down there and then.
This was the first book I had read about the world of Pro cycling, and I was very taken with the excitement of the events and the results, which came through despite the writing.
The Unknown TDF by Les Woodland makes an interesting counter to this book; less partisan, more readable and certainly better proofed than this volume.
One for cyclists only.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History and atmosphere 4 Nov 2007
Many books tell of Tour history, but this one is outstanding. The hardship and suffering of past and present competitors is reinforced by the author's experience of riding the famous cols and sharing his feelings with us as he recalls legendary rides by the professionals. It combines interest with a literary style which is sadly lacking in most other accounts which are ploddingly prosaic by comparison. A previous review complained of Graeme Fife's literary use of English - an understandable complaint, given the reviewer's poor vocabulary (e.g. 'under mind' instead of undermined.)
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brings to life the history of the tour 6 July 1999
By A Customer
In my opinion this is the first time a real craftsman has researched and tackled the history of the Tour de France . Greame really captures the pain and passion and I was able to understand at last what has motivated and moulded the stars of this singular sport .
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent comparisons of legends and mordern era 21 Jan 2000
By A Customer
Graeme Fife has captured the readers attention by telling the stories of the early years. He narrates the difficulties faced by the unassisted riders of that era, and compares it to some of the classic rivalries of the modern years. A book which is too good to leave unread, Graeme also combines his own mountain cycling exploits into the story.
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