How I Won the Yellow Jumper: Dispatches from the Tour de France (Yellow Jersey Cycling Classics) Paperback – 2 Jun 2011
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"A candid, insightful and often hilarious account of how a one-off assignment became a lifetime obsession. Anyone who likes France, cycling, media coverage of sport, obsessives and above all the magic that is the Tour de France will enjoy this book" (Alastair Campbell)
"I thought Ned was an old hand at the Tour. Evidently he was clueless ... Told with panache" (David Millar)
"Lifts the lid on the dirty secrets, the secret shame, the flabby, overhanging underbelly of British TV coverage of the Tour de France. At last, a book about the Tour that's just plain fun" (Matt Rendell)
"Quirky, warped, enthusiastic and funny" (Chris Boardman)
"The Tour de France has inspired some brilliant writing over the years, and this book is right up there" (Adrian Chiles)
A funny and frank account of falling in love with the Tour de France by television's quintessential roving reporter, Ned BoultingSee all Product description
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Could have done with a few more laughs maybe, but I particularly enjoyed the chapter on Floyd Landis, and I guess he'll go back to Lance Armstrong in a future book (if he hasn't already).
Very enjoyable book to accompany the excellent TV coverage, which Ned does so well, and you realise just how well given the chaos behind the scenes at Le Tour!
I'd also recommend Tim Moore's excellent book 'French Revolutions' too.
Top notch entertainment all round
He has also learned a bit about cycling too. `How I Won The Yellow Jumper' is his story of the grind behind the glamour of covering cycling's biggest race. It is a tale of one man, a suitcase full of smelly socks and his noble steed, a battered Renault Espace, on an annual three-week odyssey from Grand Départ to Bedraggled Arrivée.
If you watch ITV's annual Tour coverage, you will be familiar with Boulting's dry style as he brings us short feature segments and gleans reactions from exhausted pedallers in the post-stage media melée in which pointy elbows and a willingness to stick your nose in where angels fear to tread are as vital tools of the trade as the ability to mangle a variety of European languages.
He is to Gary Imlach, ITV's inimitable and unfeasibly polished front-man, what Jens Voigt is to Andy Schleck. In his deceptively imitable every-man style, Boulting has carved out a niche as the team's super-domestique. He plays a vital role, putting in the hard kilometres that help make ITV's coverage so enjoyable.
Here Boulting conveys the real beauty of the Tour and why he has fallen in love with its utter lunacy. It is not about the stars who make the headlines, or the Alpine backdrops or the race's unerring capacity for human drama. The beauty is all in the details, whether it is the countless hours spent hanging around hotel foyers hoping to pounce on an elusive rider, or the litany of woe that is part and parcel of decamping from one random town to another on a daily basis. It is the little insights that matter, such as his random walk with the legendary Eddy Merckx while staking out his son Axel, or his pre-Tour mission of stocking up on easy-iron shirts to try to avoid the `crumpled chic' look he ends up modelling every year.
Boulting's gift as a writer is twofold. Firstly, his open acceptance that so much of the reality of covering a three-week, 3000-kilometre race is mundane and faintly ludicrous. And secondly, he writes exactly like he presents, delivering deadpan wit which makes you laugh before you even realise he has cracked a joke. Most of all, though, he does it with an obvious love of the sport without being blind to both its darker and sillier sides.
Eight years of covering the Tour has taken Boulting on a journey from novice to expert and from jobbing reporter to passionate fan. That story unfolds here without airs and graces, in the manner of an entertaining chat down the pub. True to his reporting style, his writing gives the effortless impression that anyone could do his job - until you realise that this in itself is his greatest skill.
Most importantly, he now knows it's not a yellow `jumper'. It's a tank-top. And not an easy-iron one either.
If you want glamorous anecdotes and bon mots about the stars of contemporary cycling, look elsewhere. But if you want to know what the day-to-day reality of chasing a bunch of skinny men in lycra skin-suits around France is like, then look no further. `How I Won The Yellow Jumper' is an unpolished gem from an unsung hero. Chapeau, Ned.
Boulting has clearly fallen for the race, but his account is certainly not a rose-tinted view that overlooks cycling's deep-seated problems. This is the perfect read for the growing masses of British cycling fans that view the sport with a certain amount of scepticism, but cannot resist returning each July. Boulting indulges the reader with his experiences with the most fascinating characters in a sport not short on eccentrics. Wiggins, Cav, Armstrong, Landis et al get plenty of coverage, but what comes across most clearly is the sheer thrill of being a part of the ultimate sporting road trip. Great summer reading. Bring on July 2nd!
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