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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 21 August 2014
The 1987 Tour de France saw Irishman Stephen Roche triumph, including one of the most memorable scenes in the Tour's history - his dramatic recovery during the stage to La Plagne, followed by his physical collapse after he crossed the finishing line.

It also saw the first British team compete for 20 years, ANC Halfords, whose rather shambolic attempts now look even more poignant given that it was over a couple of decades later that the professionalism and resources of Sky saw a Brit win the Tour de France two years in a row.

1987 is notable for a third reason - it was the tour covered by Jeff Connor's book, Wide-eyed and legless: Insider the Tour de France, rated by Cycle Sport as the top cycling book of all time.

It's a deserved accolade for the book energetically and clearly covers not just the race but many of the wider issues around road racing, including why so many riders ended up regularly cheating with drugs and why too the sport's authorities were often so reluctant to take meaningful action.

Although cycling has changed in many ways since, it is still recognisably the same sport, complete with problems over cheating, prima donna cyclists, vast crowds, oppressive media attention and near-impossible physical challenges for the riders. Some of the lack of professionalism of "professional" teams back then has, however, thankfully been overtaken by bigger budgets and better treatment of the cyclists - at least for male cyclists.

The book itself is a great read, though its structure - an overall account of several stages at once, before doubling back to cover each of the stages in some detail - can make the flow of the story a little confusing at times.

A tip about the audio version of this book: it is missing some of the appendices at the end, even though they are amenable to be read out loud.
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on 4 February 2016
This is an entertaining read and pre-dates the current spate of band-wagon cycling book writing. Stylistically, it is slightly muddled - a combination of stage write-ups and little anecdotes. The author has recently admitted it could have been better. A lot of the reading involves looking through the results and GC parts and trying to marry them up with the stories that are told.

It gives good insight into how amateurish the British were at trying to match the continental Europeans at their sport. It also makes you wonder what could have been for riders such as Timmis and Elliott had their careers been today and not back then.
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on 4 July 2011
A fascinating and reasonably dispassionate view of cycling in that era. But for the British / UK / Scottish / Anglo-Saxon rise to a level of respect in European cycling over the last 15 years, this book would have been almost too cringe-making to read. It's quite sad as the book reflects on potentially great English cyclists who were simply not understood or looked after properly. To read this book is to gain another dimension and reach a new level of understanding of the world of professional road cycling.

I strongly recommend that you immediately follow Wide-eyed and Legless with Sky's the Limit - that is perfect literary juxtaposition. Maybe Sky was trying too hard and did not know enough about the indefinable T de F factor, but it survived well. ANC Halfords were total novices and also did not know enough about the indefinable T de F factor, and it crumbled miserably but not without many moments of humour and laughable behaviour, amongst days and weeks of unbridled heroism from others on the team.
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on 4 March 2016
A great inside view of an unprepared british cycling team. Tactics (or lack of them) tears and laughter. A must read for any sport fan. Glad to say it's a different story now...by a million miles - which is nice !
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on 13 March 2012
This book at the time it was published was very highly rated, and today it is still a good read, as it describes an era which has long since gone. Turning up to the Tour in such an amateurish way, won't get you very far any more, and it's a shame for the riders involved that they were not supported properly in their brave attempt.

It is though, an essential addition to anyone's cycling library, and easy to read for someone with only a passing interest in the sport.
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on 26 February 2009
I was 19 when I bought and read this book in 1988. To a certain extent it is now historical as times have moved on, not least the drug scandals.
However at the time it certainly opened my eyes. Consequently I have been saddened but not surprised by the Festina affair, Operacion Puerto, etc.
A very interesting insight into the sport and especially into the race, that is hyper-tough, full of drama and high moments, but also has a seamier side that is very dirty and sometimes dangerous.
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on 17 November 2013
When compared to modern teams like Team Sky and the massive financial backing its a wonder Team ANC Halfords ever got off the ground.

The fact that they acheived some decent finishes in the Tour de France and had several riders complete it is amazing.

This book highlights what happens when a team tries to be competative in the Tour on a shoestring budget and with little planning. The author effectively goes from being a journalist to fully fledged team member.

It demonstrates the dangers of allowing someone like Mr Capper (owner of ANC) to set up in something he clearly has no background in. The whole thing smacked of someone wanting to play at being involved in the TDF because of the prestige it carries and to pander to his own ego. The fact that he and not the sporting director was allowed in the 1st team car highlight this. The director was relegated to a place in the other team car at the rear. Later Capper has his kids flown over and lets them go in the 1st team car!!

With numerous incidents like this its no wonder the team steadily implodes over the 3 weeks. Fascinating reading about a team clearly just trying a cling on in the Tour and survive. Recommended.
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on 5 December 2011
After 80 or so pages I gave up on this book. I need an engaging writing style not just facts and I couldn't make it through. Cavendish, Boy Racer on the other hand was a great read - full speed and lots of fun.
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on 16 June 2015
Interesting commentary, although I wouldn't say that it is the best cycling book ever written as advertised. But none the less it's worth a read.
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on 21 July 2015
The most over rated book I have read. Poorly written, disjointed and interspersed with Stage results that anybody really interested would have read elsewhere. No humour or real insight and I cannot understand how it is claimed to be the No.1 Cycling Book Of All Time - unless the author's Mum compiled the list. I have read more interesting local club newsletters. Thankfully a slim volume which is even slimmer if you remove all the race results and dull photos.Worst value book I have ever bought and will never believe anything Cycle Sport write.Waste of 9 quid.
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