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G. Daniels "velovet" (Staffs, England)
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Sean Yates: It's All About the Bike: My Autobiography
Sean Yates: It's All About the Bike: My Autobiography
by Sean Yates
Edition: Hardcover

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's All About The Bike, 13 Oct. 2013
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There is more to Sean Yates than the last three years of his career with Team Sky. This book follows his life from unconventional upbringing in Sussex, as elite time triallist and champion, professional road cyclist and successful directeur sportif. Guilty by association in his eyes, he lost his job through being hired simultaneously by the team that nurtured Lance Armstrong. This in response to Sky's policy, applied retrospectively, of not retaining any staff that had been tainted by association with performance enhancing drugs. Yates felt let down and particularly so when Sky, complacently, took several days to release an agreed press statement on the background to his departure.

The challenge of conflating a lengthy sporting life in to 300 pages seems to have been cathartic. He doesn't spare himself from exposing the personal conflicts in his life. For example, he addresses his own health issues candidly together with a strained and ultimately doomed marriage yet retains a touching dependence on his former wife.

Anecdotes abound that turn around the topsy-turvy years with Peugeot before gaining stability and status in the peloton. A manic trainer, tireless racer and general obsessive, vignettes of his career and the personalities and events that flecked his journey flow with wit and self-deprecation.

He remains fond of, and loyal to, Lance Armstrong, a friendship that endures. However, a selective view of his doping and other activities is difficult to accommodate and this contact led to his premature retirement from Team Sky.

Sean Yates emerges as a complicated character, driven, sometimes indiscreet and often insensitive to those nearest him. Nonetheless, professional cycling is the poorer without his presence.


Domestique: The Real-life Ups and Downs of a Tour Pro
Domestique: The Real-life Ups and Downs of a Tour Pro
by Charly Wegelius
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £19.20

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Domestique, 22 July 2013
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Life is cynical. In this ghosted memoir Charly Wegelius relates his story from darling of British Cycling to eventually making his name in the peloton with many setbacks in between.

He never won a race as a pro. The pressure of team leadership exposed his limitations whereas he felt comfortable as a support rider. The Grand Tours became his metier, particularly the Giro d'Italia, which he regarded as his own race. If the Vuelta taught him how to survive, the Tour emerges as big, brash and lacking glamour with no time to relax. Riders feel stressed, particularly in the first week, when there are frequent accidents.

For Wegelius, doping was a personal thing. This avoids the issue. However, it was routine and he explodes the myth of omerta. Unusually, but not uniquely, he had a naturally high haematocrit level which, although accepted by the UCI, left him feeling vulnerable, his career innocently threatened by nature.

Nadir came at the 2005 world road race championships in Madrid. Without any naïve patriotism, Wegelius was riding for a living and a future. Although raced in national teams, it was not unknown for a rider to help a commercial teammate, for money. Wegelius struck a deal with the Italians at their instigation. The fallout affected him and a teammate who had been complicit in the arrangement. Both were banned for life from the national team. Further afield, the GB team manager resigned.

With maturity, Wegelius became a sage within the peloton. However, the Tour of 2010 became one Tour too many. Mentally and physically exhausted, disillusioned by the fickleness of pro cycling, he needed change. Marriage brought him the support and consistency that he had not known for a long time.


Seven Deadly Sins: My Pursuit of Lance Armstrong
Seven Deadly Sins: My Pursuit of Lance Armstrong
by David Walsh
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.62

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Seven Deadly Sins, 7 Jan. 2013
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There are no good dopers and no bad dopers, just dopers. David Walsh's irreverent and sometimes cynical tone flushes out the detail of the Lance Armstrong case. The writing just sizzles.

Christophe Bassons proved to be the touchstone for Walsh in his suspicions of Armstrong's doping. An honest man, who believed in riding clean, he made his views on drugs known through the media during the 1999 Tour de France. Ostracised by his peers, and incurring the wrath of Lance in his return to the Tour after cancer, he retired from the race and, ultimately, professional cycling.

Doping divided the press corps. Most journalists wanted to believe what Lance delivered on the road but some, and not merely Walsh, saw the reality of what was going on. For a long time illusion had the upper hand. His book, with Pierre Ballester, LA Confidentiel, exposed vividly the depth of drug abuse in pro cycling. Walsh had his eyes opened to the conspiracy of lies and deceit in and around the peloton.

Armstrong's cheating and his cynical escape from justice subsumed Walsh's life. The strain on him, his family and others lined up against Lance was enormous. After statements from, amongst others, Greg Lemond, Betsy Andreu, the wife of one of Armstrong's former teammates and Emma O'Reilly, once Lance's personal masseuse who assisted him in his clandestine drug use, nothing seemed to happen for a long time. The tipping point came with Floyd Landis's letter to the UCI and USA Cycling in May 2010. Landis, the disgraced winner of the 2006 Tour de France had, following his disqualification, at first denied doping. He had raised money for his legal defence by lying to friends and supporters. Eventually, however, he told the truth implicating Armstrong and others in a doping scandal that breached the omerta of pro cycling.

Usada's reasoned decision finally destroyed Lance. He'd survived a federal investigation and, up to now, remained in denial of any wrongdoing. In early January 2013 The New York Times ran a story that Lance wanted to confess.


My Comeback: Up Close and Personal
My Comeback: Up Close and Personal
by Lance Armstrong
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars Dedication and Achievement, 26 Sept. 2010
Lance Armstrong has always regarded himself as cancer survivor rather than bicycle racer. The desire to push the message of Livestrong, his cancer foundation, provided the catalyst for a return to professional cycling after three years of retirement.

Elizabeth Kreutz captures a unique year in an intimate camera record of Armstrong's life as he prepares for his greatest challenge, the Tour de France, once more. Along the way there are images of Lance the A-lister as he rubs shoulders with politicians and TV pundits and, above all, with cancer sufferers, carers and fundraisers.

Cycling at the highest level is woven in to a lifestyle that threatens to pull him this way and that but, still amazingly, he emerges as clear-sighted and driven as ever, if a little polish is now applied in this latter regard.

There are photos of Lance the family man, hard man metamorphosed into elder statesman of the peloton yet still disciple of the greatest of them all, Eddie Merckx. Elizabeth Kreutz's evocative pictures and the supporting text, much of it in Armstrong's own words, make this a compelling account of dedication and achievement.


The Tour de France: A Cultural History
The Tour de France: A Cultural History
by Christopher S Thompson
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Tour de France, 10 April 2010
This is not a 'rubber on roads' Tour book. Christopher Thompson turns the traditional formula on its head in producing a highly researched and unusual history of the race. For over a century the Tour has been the glue that often held France together and helped to shape attitudes. Racers became 'Giants of the Road' and the race spawned a florid, Homeric style of newspaper reporting that romanticised the suffering of its participants. If a touch fey, this notion of hardship has largely endured over the years. A free show that went round France every July soon caught the imagination and the public loved it. The Tour matured and has seen off articulate critics who challenged its Darwinian nature. If anything, this has added to its appeal. Political upheaval following defeat in two world wars, collaboration, female emancipation and the impact of drugs have all been milestones in the Tour's history. Christopher Thompson confronts these major issues and much more. Our understanding of the Tour and, indeed, the French, is enriched by this excellent book.


A Racing Cyclist's Worst Nightmare: And Other Stories of the Golden Age
A Racing Cyclist's Worst Nightmare: And Other Stories of the Golden Age
by Tony Hewson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.95

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Racing Cyclist's Worst Nightmare, 9 April 2010
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This second book by Tony Hewson is a miscellany of personal experience, anecdote, fiction and history. He charts his own cycling career from early days with the misnamed Elsecar Cycling Club through National Service to winning the Tour of Britain and competing in the Warsaw-Berlin-Prague stage race. In between, there are vignettes of characters from cycling in the forties and fifties laced together by a passion that many, probably now retired, road racers of a certain age will recognise from their days in the British League of Racing Cyclists. The League dragged British cycling out of self-imposed torpor with its aping of Continental-style road racing before mortality in amalgamation claimed it at the end of the fifties.

Post-war Britain, the ordinariness and drabness of working class life, is painted vividly whilst the unexpected human touches Hewson encounters behind the Iron Curtain surprise and delight him. This is an often light-hearted look back at a world, if a little naive, evinced a spirit that is missing in the blandness and trivia that surrounds much of modern life.


A Dog in a Hat: An American Bike Racer's Story of Mud, Drugs, Blood, Betrayal, and Beauty in Belgium
A Dog in a Hat: An American Bike Racer's Story of Mud, Drugs, Blood, Betrayal, and Beauty in Belgium
by Bob Roll
Edition: Paperback
Price: £15.99

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Dog in a Hat, 29 Nov. 2008
This memoir would not have been published a decade ago. Then, cycling books were idealized, all sunflowers, suntans and white teeth. If the Festina Affair was some kind of milestone, more recent events have stripped the veneer from pro cycling to expose a drug-fuelled sham. Its aspiring saviours face a huge challenge.

Joe Parkin wanted to be the best. Arriving from the USA as an innocent, he witnessed in Belgium the darker side of cycling at his first pro event with riders openly injecting themselves as part of pre-race preparation.

Parkin was a nearly man. Fate, or ability that fell short, kept him from the big win that would make his name. But he kept trying, absorbing Flemish culture and speaking the language. He was accepted.

Kermis - or kermesse - racing is the staple diet of Belgian cycling. Jim Ochowicz told Parkin that kermis riders were 'a dime a dozen' and that he should have ambition for the big races. Parkin himself found his dressing room peers generally dim. However, he was a man trying to do a superman's job. It wasn't long before dope claimed him, too.

The drudgery, race-fixing and duplicity of riders, managers and sponsors -and not merely in the second stream - comes through Parkin's words. There's not much glamour for the journeyman professional. He stayed just a few years in Belgium and then did not return. Who could blame him?
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Tomorrow, We Ride
Tomorrow, We Ride
by Jean Bobet
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.05

32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tomorrow We Ride, 21 Sept. 2008
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This review is from: Tomorrow, We Ride (Paperback)
Jean Bobet is a cultured and articulate man. His book is an evocation of his famous brother, Louison, and a memoir of the traditions of the peloton and the workings of pro cycling in the fifties, the Golden Age of Continental road racing. The brothers' lives intertwined, the clever academic and the iconic champion. Everyone wanted to see Louison, to touch him, to read about him. He was the first to win the Tour de France for three consecutive years. Flamboyant, for some he could do no wrong. Perhaps, unsurprisingly, the writing is largely uncritical of its main subject, but he was not beyond rebuke from his younger sibling.

Louison Bobet's career ran in parallel with French society as it came to terms with occupation and collaboration together with post-war social and economic modernisation. However, by the end of the decade there was a shift in cycling hierarchy. Koblet and Kubler were gone. Coppi died in 1960 and Bobet retired not long afterwards. Jean Bobet himself quit cycling in 1958 disillusioned by the influence of drugs on the peloton. He became a journalist, kept the secret until he could stand it no more and joined his brother in his thalasotherapy institute.

Jean Bobet offers unique insight into the mores of pro cycling when in its pomp. His book is memorable and emblematic of the period yet, more than that, it overflows with the intimacies and delight of cycling for its own sake


Bad Blood: The Secret Life of the Tour de France
Bad Blood: The Secret Life of the Tour de France
by Jeremy Whittle
Edition: Paperback

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bad Blood, 1 Aug. 2008
Jeremy Whittle charts his personal metamorphosis from cycling innocent to complicit acceptance of doping, its eventual rejection and finally outright cycnicism of pro cycling. He writes stylishly of the last decade from the Festina Affair to Operacion Puerto. There may be little new on offer but he tops-and-tails the stories that have emerged from the peloton with some telling observation.

The name of Lance Armstrong threads through the text. From redneck to sharp suit, from friend to inaccessible icon, Lance became bigger than the Tour itself. Indeed, the Armstrong organisation hectored the media and anyone else who challenged the boss and his ethics. Corporatism eliminated the flair in cycling - the use of EPO purged the uncertainty in the sport, its greatest attraction.

Lance railed against those who disputed the drug culture in cycling or owned up to taking drugs. His retirement in 2005 exposed what was still going on beneath the surface.

In 1991 Greg Lemond was even better prepared for the Tour that in 1990 when he won, yet the gap between him and the dopers widened as the race went on. He recognised what was happening, EPO had arrived. He is now an outspoken, articulate critic of doping and what it has done to cycling.

Whittle realises cycling's inability to change itself, that the gilded words of its leaders mean nothing. Yet the fans still want to believe. In his soul, Whittle still wants to believe, but the circle is closed and the future looks bleak.


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