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VINE VOICEon 4 August 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Mountain Kings by Giles Belbin. This is a book for all fans of the Tour de France and especially those who love the mountain stages. It is set out in chapters featuring alternately 25 of the great climbs the Tour uses and profiles of 23 of the riders who have made their names on their slopes.

The Mountains - each chapter has all the relevant details of it's size, length and gradient and when it had been used in the Tour however the beauty of the book is that the author rides them himself giving vivid descriptions of each part of the climb and what it meant to him, the fear, the agony and all interwoven with tales of the great historical battles that have taken place over the years between the famous tour climbers. It is exiting and compelling reading.
There are many beautiful photographs which show the reader what each climb is like and the magnificent scenery most of which is lost when watching the Tour on TV. This helps to put you there and perhaps gives you an idea of the pain. The author features 25 of the famous climbs - magical names that alone paint their own pictures - Col D'Aspin, Peyresourde, Marie-Blanque, The Tourmalet, Alp D'Huez, Col De La Madeleine, Galibier and of course the notorious Ventoux. In all 25 featured mountains each with their own wonderful stories.

The Riders - features 23 profiles of the great climbers past and present with their own stories of how they won and lost on the mountains. Again magical names to conjure great memories of their exploits - Luis Ocana, Eddy Merckx, Fignon, Anquetil, Coppi and Bobbet, Indurain, Pantani, Hinault, Robert Miller, Charlie Gaul, Wiggins and perhaps the greatest of them all - the great Bahamontes.

The basic description says that this is a "paperback" but that is very misleading. True is has a stiff card cover rather than a hard binding but the quality of production, paper and artwork is of the highest standard.

A truly wonderful book worth every one of the five stars I have given. Full of great stories, punishing climbs and legendary riders.

Just Superb !
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VINE VOICEon 17 October 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
A fantastic book that will appeal to new fans of the Tour de France looking to learn a bit more about the cycling greats, and a brilliant tome for reminiscing on past masters who've been tour fans for a while.

Nicely written and containing some iconic images (many of which convey the pain these guys went through) this book also lists the great climbs of the tour, from the saddle.

Armchair enthusiasts and amateur cyclists will both enjoy this book.
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on 17 June 2013
Ive read a number of Tour history books - Mountain Kings does a great job of telling the tales of the heros of the tour with great detail.
This book brings a refreshing twist with Giles Belbin's documentation of riding these famous peaks alongside the stories of famous races.
His honest account makes a refreshing contrast to the epic tails of tour glory. If you fancy riding any of the Cols yourself this book is a must! Mountain Kings is a great all-rounder!
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on 13 June 2013
This is a great book. Giles Belbin shares his insightful knowledge of the Tour de France mixed with personal experience over the toughest mountains. A well researched history of the Tour's biggest battles, from the unthinkable first event to the modern day circus, is written so you feel part of it. As Giles describes his own adventures climbing the toughest 25 mountains it inspires you to get out and ride. I would highly recommend this book.
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VINE VOICEon 25 June 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I've been watching and reading about the Tour De France since the early 70's. Most of you probably weren't born then. Back then, I was (mostly) reading about Eddy Merckx (whom I once met) and occasionally watching highlights on grandstand (ask you parents - or grandparents.) Now I can watch most stages live on TV, but still love books like this.

If you're a fan of the Tour, then this is a great little book covering the famous climbs and some of the greats who have made the tour great by riding those climbs. You're probably going to buy this anyway. You should. If you're wondering why some of us are so keen of the Tour, then buy this book and find out. While watching Cavendish win sprints in Paris is exciting, it's the mountains that really make the race.

Each chapter covers one of the great climbs. Included is a gradient map, showing the slope of each mountain. This is a nice little detail, often missed in books of this sort - they often just show a map of the route. Each of these mountains has been ridden by the author and includes his experience of the climb.

After the history of the climb, you get a chapter on one of the heroes of the climb, all the way from the first tour to some of the truly great climbers in tour history.

I would love to ride some of these mountain routes, but my ability to climb is nearly non-existent (too many knee injuries.) Still, the descents would be fun!

So a nice read with some excellent photographs and nicely researched histories. I only wished I had the hardback.
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VINE VOICEon 22 August 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a book for those who love riding the mountain stages of the Tour de France, and those who just love reading about them (or a companion to those who love watching them).

The book interweaves the history of the Tour and twenty five of the classic mountain stages; with a description of the author's efforts to conquer them. It gives you hard factual information with descriptions of just what it is like to ride these mountain stages; especially if you are not privileged enough to do it as part of the peleton. There are also interspersed little snippets about some of the famous mountain cyclists.

It is well written and entertaining, and definitely a worthy addition to the library of cycling enthusiasts. So much so that my husband took my copy with him when he went to cycle in the Alps and watch the Tour stage up the Alpe d'Huez.
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on 13 June 2013
This is one of my favourite cycling books. The author offers a compelling personal account of the tours many climbs and provides this with stunning pictures, statistics and the fascinating history of the tour. Easy to read and the type of book that makes you go for a ride! If your a fan of the worlds greatest road race, I recommend you buy this book.
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on 5 September 2013
A well written book supplemented with excellent photographs. The book is written from experience which adds to the realism of the narrative.
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VINE VOICEon 18 July 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I've taken interested in 'Le Tour' since the late 80's and early 90's, but have only been hooked in recent years, when my understanding and appreciation of the individuals, teams, character and the sheer challenge of events has crystallised.

There are many books out there that focus on individual riders (legends from The Tour) or look at the rich history of the routes, climbs and stages; but this is a wonderful collection that's both accessible and inspiring.

I'll admit that I did hope that I'd like the writing style, as I've been following Belbin's work since the inception of Boneshaker (Magazine). I'm certainly not disappointed and will be recommending this to my cycling friends.

This book covers the most famous climbs, but also carefully knits this together with key human element; the riders who sought to conquer the mountains. It provides great background, insight into to the first 100 years of The Tour.

Each chapter covers one of the climbs and includes a very helpful diagram that illustrates the distance / altitude (gradient) of the climbs, along with a simple colour key for the level of difficulty.

As well as placing the climb and giving references to towns and geography, the author actually describes his ride, as he seeks to experience the climbs; with a genuine honesty and matter of fact style.

Each climb is then followed, and nicely balanced, with a supporting chapter on a particular rider.

I was surprised as to how many of the names were familiar to me, reminding me of their exploits, triumphs and the moment into which the have been written into the history of The Tour.

It's a hard subject to land just right, and I do believe that this is not only well written, carefully researched and pulled together with a genuine passion for the sport; but it's also accessible and enjoyable, even to those who don't have a deep understanding (obsession?) of the Tour de France. The photographs and descriptions are enough to certainly inspire, if not to ride, but just to experience what is something very special and near unique.

On a final note, I've also found it a very handy companion, so that I can keep ahead and read up on some of the (mountain) stages for this year.
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VINE VOICEon 18 August 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Really enjoyed reading this book about the mountains of the Tour de France. The writer really lest you in on his recons of each mountain, and I like the format with the chapters on climbs interspersed with chapters on notable Tour climbers. Both aspects of the book are really well written and researched. Despite being a good read, it will also remain on my shelves as a reference work about the mountains and the Tour climbers. It may also become an 'eye-spy' book for some to tick off mountains as they ride them themselves.
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