The Breakaway Paperback – 26 Mar 2015
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'Cooke's outspoken book, The Breakaway, is a compelling and salutary account of the price she paid for hard-earned victories from which many others in cycling will benefit' Guardian
'Frank and honest...The Breakaway is a book that will not only inspire all those who read it but which also asks some serious questions about the way society regards women's sport' --Women's Cycling
'Nicole Cooke's autobiographical The Breakaway is both a powerfully-written testament to the measure of that achievement by a former World and European champion on the road plus a well-argued critique of the barriers that stand in the way of women's cycling' --Huffington Post
About the Author
Nicole Cooke was born near Swansea in 1983 and became one of the UK's most successful cyclists, winning gold in the 2008 Olympics and then following it up a few weeks later with the World Road Race title. In all she won more than 70 professional titles around the world, including the women's Tour de France twice. She retired from the sport in 2013.
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Cooke gives plenty of praise to those that, she believes, deserves it. She also clobbers the people and topics that deserve it. Plenty of people come out of the book appearing incompetent, bordering on malevolent. Others (often those that left the sport early) are often given sympathy. The people that helped her (coaches, surgeons, riders, training partners…) are repeatedly named and thanked in the text. There are also moments when Cooke admits to having been wrong (mainly with overtraining, but occasionally with conversations).
It is not an unbiased reflection of women’s cycling; that would honestly be boring. It is a passionate book that tries to back up opinions and leaves nothing left. That does mean that I view some of the points a little suspiciously (I look forward to reading something from one of her team mates), but even a small number of truths in it would raise a lot of interesting points and harm people’s reputations. At the very worst it allowed me to temper my view of British Cycling and “Marginal Gains”.
Whatever happens, I was very happy with this book and would recommend it for anyone who follows cycling, or simply likes a good old “overcome the odds” story.
A great book, i couldn't put it down.
Probably the best female rider we've ever had - certainly on a par with Victoria Pendleton and yet most people haven't heard of her.
World and Olympic champion in the same year (2008) and winner of multiple monuments, stages of the TDF, Giro etc, multiple time national champion and many other classics.
A staunch anti-doper who pulls no punches in her thoughts on people like David Millar - refers to him as 'the drug cheat david millar' throughout the book and is someone who clearly would have won much more had it not been for dopers in the womens peloton. Brilliant read and Cooke deserves much more recognition for her services to cycling in general.
What on earth were they so worried about in a teenage girl?
Nothing surprises me about the way the "blazers" of british cycling behave. It's as if they are just on one long publicly funded jolly.
A brilliant read.
It's such an eye opener, answering so many questions I had throughout Nicole's journey.
I hope the people who stood in her way are proud of themselves for robbing us of even more fine performances which I'm sure would have been possible with their support.
I thank Nicole for the joy and pride she gave us with her unprecedented performances and this book which sheds light on the dark world of sports management.
That she could achieve so many British "firsts" with only her own drive, her family and teammates as support, when publicly/Lottery funded British Cycling blatantly stood in her way, while it underachieved, says so much.
In 2004, Nicole became Britain's first ever grand tour winner, and the youngest female winner of a grand tour, by winning the Giro D'Italia.
Q: Was Sir Brad the first Brit to win the TdF ?. Er, no. In 2006, Nicole became the first Briton to win the Tour de France, riding in Yellow over the mythical Mont Ventoux.
Q: First brit to win 2x TdF's ? Froomey ?. Oops, no! Nicole won it for the second time in 2007. Back to back wins.
Add in numerous World, Commonwealth and National wins, and you begin to get a measure of what she achieved.
Marginal gains, eh? More like 'lets throw public money at it - it's bound to succeed, eventually". No one hovered her hotel room each night after a race, and yet, Nicole Cooke achieved more, on her own, than British Cycling/Team Sky did until very recently. British Cycling, and the principle players within it, should hang their heads in shame, that they didn't support Nicole's talent and career much earlier sooner.
Well done Nicole.
I enjoyed the book and learnt a lot about professional (and amateur) women's cycling. By its nature this is a book written from the heart and is not the easiest read for someone who does not know much about the people who Nicole competed against on and off the track. It is sometimes difficult to keep track of who is who, and where Nicole is. Having said that, this book should be read by anybody with an interest in professional cycling.
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