3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Slim but deep,
This review is from: The Sweat of the Gods: Myths and Legends of Bicycle Racing (Paperback)
I never expected this to be a very in depth history of cycling, it isn't a very large book and there is a lot of history to cover. The book does give a good overview of the history of professional road racing, starting with a very interesting chapter on the earliest races in Paris and covering thoughtfully the commercial motives of the organisers.
In fact the main strength of this book is that it gives a good overview of how and why changes happened in the sport, these are mostly for financial reasons but the interested parties change with time. Starting with newspapers, then manufacturers and finally outside sponsors. Without this wider view the development of cycling makes little or no sense. The author makes the book an entertaining read and the little pieces of myth busting are rather enlightening. Maso forms a strong argument about why riders of the past are regarded as greats in a way that no cyclist since the 60's has been.
My only problems with the book are that it tends to focus on the Tour de France, I realise that this is the greatest race around and that it is a very slim book but I had hoped for a little bit more on other races. There is a section on the Giro and a few pages on the spring classics but I don't remember reading a single word about the Vuelta the third grand tour.
On a personal level I don't agree with Maso's views as to doping which has probably coloured my recollection of the book as this is the focus of the last chapter of the book but as a whole this is a entertaining read which gives a really good idea of the way that cycling has changed over the hundred plus years that races have been run.