Born to Ride: The Autobiography of Stephen Roche Paperback – 2 May 2013
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"Fascinating…a compelling read" (Cycling Shorts)
"One of the most riveting sporting biographies I've read for ages" (Herald)
"While most people focus on his famous year in 1987, it's often forgotten just how precocious a cyclist Roche was early on in his career…an entertaining read" (John Whitney Bike Radar)
"The intimacy and tone of a fireside chat – possibly lubricated with a generous nightcap" (Daniel Friebe Outdoor Fitness)
"Highly recommended" (Cycling World)
The first full autobiography of Irish cycling legend Stephen Roche, who in 1987 defied all odds to win cycling's 'triple crown'See all Product description
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His account of 1987 is particularly detailed and insightful. The book also provides a glimpse at events surrounding his career generally and developments since his retirement. Particularly emotional and striking is his young son's battle against Leukemia.
In this reviewer's opinion, however, in contrast to his career, Roche's autobiography fails to touch greatness in a number of respects.
Firstly, to my surprise (as someone who found Stephen particularly engaging on his TV screen back in the 1980s and early 1990s), Roche doesn't come across as the most sympathetic of characters. He is, by his own admission, opinionated and assertive in his views - perhaps too much so at times. His treatment of a lot of events also comes across as somewhat superficial - to my surprise I found myself warming much more to Bjarne Riis when I read his own recent autobiography.
Also by his own admission, Roche is very hard on his son, the cyclist, Nicholas. He wastes no time in criticising his son's approach to cycling and castigating him for not adopting his views on cycling. To me this was somewhat troubling in light of the next point.
Whilst Roche does discuss doping in his book, the treatment came across to me as somewhat superficial. He does however categorically deny that he was ever involved in any doping and says he was naive about the practice when he was a rider. What did trouble me however was Roche's apparent argument that his son should have furthered his career by riding for the likes of Johan Bruyneel. Whilst Bruyneel has only recently (and therefore after Roche wrote this) been charged by the US anti-drugs authorities of being involved in a massive performance enhancing drugs conspiracy (and does not admit the charges which have yet to be proved one way or the other), the allegations (and in the case of some riders, admissions) of cheating within teams that he directed at various teams have been around for some time. Whether they prove to be true or not, I personally would not be pushing my son to be riding with him. While this is a subjective view, rather than criticising, personally I would be shouting from the rooftops how proud I was of what Nicholas has achieved in cycling - all whilst apparently entirely clean and resisting the temptations that others in the peleton have clearly succumbed to.
All in all, in this reviewer's opinion, Roche probably was born to ride and his achievements in 1987 were stunning. Like us all, however, he is far from perfect. His book is good (and appreciated) - but no cigar.
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