Top critical review
Not as balanced as it should have been
on 10 March 2014
The ascendancy of British Cycling has been rapid in both the men’s and women’s events. We don’t get to see the hard work day after day that delivers those results, or the anguish. Victoria Pendleton’s autobiography is one view of that closed world. Petite and lacking the build of typical track sprinters; she was a power-house on the track and had the guts to get back on her bike after crashing at speed. Yet her complex nature had led her to self-harm. Later, the relationship with Scott Gardner – a Team GB sprint cycling sports scientist – caused a rift with British Cycling.
Strangely for a book likely to be read by cyclists, there isn’t a reference to the training content and, only a brief comment on the gearing of the sprint bikes towards the end of the book. There is a considerable amount on the relationship with Scott Gardner. You can either take the view that these were star-crossed lovers with British Cycling as the Capulets or, that both knew that Scott would have to leave and deprive the rest of track cycling Team GB of his expertise, unlike the relationship between Laura Trott and Jason Kenny. The latter stages of the book are an over-long detailed account of the final races.
Victoria Pendleton was a brilliant and complex athlete whose results came from commitment and guts despite what her head was telling her; may she enjoy retirement.