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on 26 June 2008
The previous four reviwers have picked up about 20 major deficiencies and it's hard to contest any of them. Many sentences have to be re-read to extract the meaning intended - can the editor be blamed for all this? The squiggle "maps", the lack of profile and any aids to locate the climbs really mitigate against the usefulness of such a book. Average and maximum gradient do not characterise a climb. The Tour system of categories could have easily been provided. The photos are mostly good but the summits of climbs don't feature. Signs, buildings, plaques reveal much and is what you want to see when you get to the top. For the record the highest road in Europe (page 230) is "a road in Spain's Sierra Nevada", more specifically Pico Valeta. Height of at least 3402m (Michelin map of Spain) makes the book in error by 1000ft. Finally the sleave suggests that the book will help you to climb the roads yourself and fit them into itineraries. I feel this is outside the scope of a coffee table book, but any case there is not much help offered. Weather trends, best maps, support, the bike itself, feeding stations, escape routes are more useful than dangerous romantic notions.
The climb star ratings (where given) and index are both well done and useful.
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on 17 June 2008
Hmmmmm!!! Yes this book does list all of the Tour climbs and gives some nice anecdotes on each ones history and some nice pictures but it should have been so, so much more.

The "maps" advertised on the back of the book are no more than simple diagrams, the history of the climb is almost non-existent and worst of all there are no climb profiles!!

Bring out a book with decent maps, profiles, a list of stages/tours they featured in, their category and who won on them (mountain top finishes) and perhaps then you'd have a book work shelling £25 out for - disappointing....
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on 12 August 2008
Best things about this book are the page size (large), the typographic layout (stylish yet well-ordered) and that it is printed in full colour throughout, unlike cycling books by cash-strapped smaller publishers.

As mentioned, the text layout is well structured, with each climb having an introductory side-column of information listing the perceived relative difficulty, length, average gradients, etc, in addition to the main text that deals with the description and Tour history aspects.

However it was a fatal mistake by the publisher and/or author to not include proper maps and gradient profiles. There's a kind of whispy-looking doodle of a map for each climb, placed in the margins of the pages, but the twistiness of a route is less important to riders hauling their weight uphill than knowing more precisely how steep it is going to be at various points and where the changes of gradient pitch will occur. By omitting the potentially useful diagrams that are promised in the sales blurb (see the Product Description) the book has been relegated to the level of a mere coffee table book, rather than the useful reference tool that it could have been. It should have been both really.

I'll skip the copy-editing deficiencies, except to say that these are embarrassing evidence of insufficient time being allowed for proof-reading and corrections.

A lesser complaint is the quality of some of the photographs, which sometimes look over-exposed. In some cases the images look like they have been scanned from low budget prints. I know it can be difficult to photograph a scene in harsh bright summer sunlight on these mountains, where there are extremes of light and shade, but I wish a bit of time was spent doing some digital correction work to hide the technical defects. Generally, I think the layout of the photos nicely integrates them with the text, although the chapter opener spreads are a little bit bland compared to the other pages. Perhaps the openers could have been made more useful by also including, as another reviewer suggests, some kind of regional map marking the relative locations of the climbs included in the chapter.

There are a number of similar books to this one published in France. Most don't have such beautiful typography as Tour Climbs, but they all have more useful diagrammatic information. Of them, the book 'Grands cols - les montagnes du tour de France à velo' (by Nicolas Moreau-Delaquis) is the one closest in form to Sidwells' book, yet it also manages to include full page colour maps and gradient cross-sections as part of the package.

So, in other words, despite Tour Climbs' good points, the ultimate guide in English has yet to be produced. Hopefully, if Collins ever correct the text for a future edition they will also give us some locational maps and include an appendix section of gradient profiles - then we can all award it the 5 star reviews that a book like this ought to have.
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on 6 June 2008
First, I have never seen such a badly-edited book from a mainstream publisher. The copy-editor should simply be fired. There is barely a page without a spelling mistake, punctuation howler or stylistic blunder. I was resigned to this by the time I arrived at page 26 to find a cross-head instruction remaining on the page, but the mistakes just kept mounting up. Perhaps other readers will be less sensitive. The author has been let down by his editor, presumably to ensure the book is out in time for this year's Tour.

Second, the squiggles that pass for 'maps' are pointless. It would have been much better to pay the copyright fee and use maps like the one on the back of the dustjacket (which is a little misleading: don't expect more of these inside).

Third, regional maps with a numbered key to the climbs in each chapter would have helped the reader locate each climb on a regional road map.

Fourth, the heavy, coffee-table format and glossy production work are not in keeping with the practical aspects of the text. There are masses of photographs, a lot of them beautiful but a lot of them pointless. Many of these could have been discarded and a smaller, lighter book would have been the result. Touring cyclists will not be able to pack this book for the journey.

The author evidently knows his stuff, but has been let down by the publisher. A clearer focus on what this book was intended for could have made it of much more practical value.
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on 12 December 2011
Sorry to say, this book is frustrating and disappointing, so much unfulfilled potential. The lack of any maps or profiles seems a big omission to any book claiming to be a guide. Where are these cols? How do I link them up? What am I supposed to gain from the squiggley lines?! Its a coffee table book - the pictures are quite nice, there is lots of interesting history - but I'm a cyclist, I want proper information about the climbs. Forget it, anyone want my copy?
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on 29 July 2008
Being a cycle racing fan, I was really looking forward to a 'complete guide' to all of the climbs used in the tdf. Sadly this book does not deliver on this claim. The previous reviews have mentioned the many pitfalls of the book - poor grammar and spelling (spelling Millar with an e is unforgiveable), useless maps, uninspiring photos and limited information.
Perhaps the author bit off more than he could chew with this one. I was hoping for more information: climb profiles, fastest ascent by a tour rider, lists of tour riders gaining points on the climbs in each tour (for the anorak in me) to name but a few.
Oh, and there's no mention of climbing the Col d'Aubisque from Laruns (note spelling - it's not Larruns).
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on 6 January 2011
Whilst many other reviewers have (imho) hit the nail on the head as to the failings of this book, I believe they have been over generous in their comments.

As a keen cyclist who travels to the Alps and follows The Tour annually I was excited by the prospect of this book and ordered immediately (in hardback...the pain...the cost...the waste!). On its arrival I was actually taken aback that an author of the calibre of Mr Sidwells would be connected to this paper thin (content not physical), 2nd rate, coffee table book.

Make no mistake, the cover aside, the photography is nice but nowhere near coffee table standard and surpassed by that found in most monthly cycling magazines. The substantive content looks like it was rattled off from (distant) memory or off the top of the head rather than from research. Either to meet a deadline or a lazy attempt to cash in quickly on a book buying audience who have been crying out for a book such as this.

It serves no purpose as a reference book from which cycling trips and projects can be planned (or maybe ticked off akin to Munro bagging in mountain walking) as the information lacks the depth and detail to give even a rough impression of the reality of the climbs.

That said, as a simple list of tour climbs (an expensive one at that) it is a very good one.

Do not waste your money on this book.
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on 24 August 2014
I found the text informative but the maps poor. There may be an assumption that you are not using the book AS a map - this may be true but the squiggly routes bare insufficient relation to map or ground. I have read in another review concern about the opening times of passes. These may be suggested by some maps eg Michelin but the facts are different. If there is heavy snowfall the passes will be closed whenever. Also (but I don't think it is mentioned in the book) it may well be possible to proceed on a bike even if it is closed to traffic. I have done the Gavia (2550m) a month before opening and it was a great thrill and without problem - wonderful without vehicles!
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on 4 September 2010
There aren't too many books like this around, so in spite of the average reviews I bought it anyway. There are a few good photos, but if you're a keen climber looking for profile info, km by km, you won't find it here.
What you do get is a couple of paragraphs of text about the climb, more for the famous ones, maybe just a sentence or two for the less so.
So all in all, I'm still looking for 'that book' of famous climbs. The Rapha one has shockingly bad photos for a coffee table book. This one crams in too many climbs, to cover the ones in which you would be interested, in any real detail. So in my opinion, it's ok, but not great.
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on 24 July 2014
Fantastic book for everyone from the casual TV viewer, through to experienced cycle tourists.
The mountains are grouped by range, with the major climbs in each range getting 2 full pages each, plus a number of lesser climbs in each range get about half a page each.
They're all here - Alpe d'Huez, Ventoux, Izoard, Telegraphe, Galibier, Madeleine, Colombier, Peyresourde. Tourmalet, Marie Blanque, Portet d'Aspet, Luz-Ardiden, etc, etc...
What to expect from each climb, how to tackle each one. Distances, heights and gradients... Local interest and tourism info. Plus classic 'Tour' folklore and titbits about each climb.
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