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on 7 June 2011
It took Ned Boulting two decades to graduate from commenting on potholes on Chiltern FM to reporting about the `yellow jumper' at the Tour de France. He has come a long way since those early days as a drowning Tour ingénue, and now knows everything there is to know about French service stations, cheap hotels and which yogurt-based drinks to avoid.

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.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 10 June 2011
Ned (or is it Nick?) has become one of the voices of summer in our household as we follow the Tour de France avidly from the safety of our armchairs. This book isn't just about Ned's broadcasting, it's not a history of the last few years of the Tour, and it's not even about cycling, it's about the trials and tribulations of having to work in closely confined spaces, hotel foyers, chasing down the road after that killer interview, watching what you eat and how to deal with socks that have been rotting in a suitcase for three weeks. It's a slice of a surreal comedy played out in some of the most spectacular scenery in Europe, or indeed from some sports hall on an industrial estate. It's the grime behind the skirting board and the hard work that goes into making what appears to be seamless programming. It's a self-efacing gently humerous look at the madness of the Tour circus at least from the TV journalists' point of view. I'll look forward to this years instalment with more expectation than usual this year and with more understanding of what has gone on behind the scenes to get the action onto our screens.

Top notch entertainment all round
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on 3 June 2011
Cycling is a slightly bizarre sport I guess, and this is a wonderfully funny and frank account of the extraordinary bike race that is the Tour de France.

Ned takes us from his first painful experiences as a bumbling, novice cycling reporter, through his love affair with the event, confronting the major issues on the way; drug scandals, Armstrong, finding launderettes on rest days, and just what the conversational etiquette should be when urinating in the open air.

This book is hugely accessible, the sport's serious and sometimes murky side is confronted properly, but before too long the narrative gently carries us off to slightly lighter concerns, like trying to pack a hot iron. Ned encounters the big names of the sport, and gives us the insiders view. We see his development alongside theirs, as well as meeting some of the more fascinating characters who keep the race ticking along, like Rudi the toilette tsar.

I really enjoyed this book from start to finish, the sort of book you don't want to rush, but that you read in the garden with a huge grin on your face. When I reached the end, not only was I laughing quite loudly in embarrassing fashion, but I also felt quite sad that Ned Boulting's insider account of eight years on tour was over. Superb.
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on 12 June 2011
Essential reading for any British cycling fan whose annual Tour fix has been delivered so brilliantly by the ITV team over the last decade. For those who remember each summer not by Wimbledon champions or winners of the Claret Jug, but by recalling who was wearing yellow in Paris that year, this book provides a fascinating insight into the madness behind the spectacle.

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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on 8 September 2012
A really good book - amusing as the self-deprecating Ned takes you through his career in reporting the Tour de France and as he tells stories that will make you laugh - or maybe curl up your toes in embarrassment for him! Plenty of 'behind-the-scenes' snippets about the cyclists and teams as well. Well worth getting.
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on 16 January 2013
This isn't like many books about the Tour. That's a great thing because it isn't the same old stuff you read about it, but it is full of funny and incredibly awkward personal anecdotes. I really enjoy the "cutaway" nature of the book, as it frequently starts on a subject and to further back it up gives a really detailed story about an event he has lived through on the Tour. This gives the book a sense of depth and completeness. How Cav Won the Green Jersey carries on in the same vein as the Yellow Jumper left off, and acts as an incredibly detailed post script to it. I guarantee you won't get bored of this.
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on 28 July 2011
Enjoyed all of this book; some of the pictures are badly printed however and you can barely make some of them out.
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on 31 July 2012
I really enjoyed this book. Ned doesn't say a heck of a lot during the Tour shows, and now I understand why! I laughed out loud a few times during the book and found it gave a fascinating insight into the world of TV coverage at this most hectic and gruelling of sporting events.

Highly recommended for Tour fans of all ages.
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on 28 October 2013
I've been an avid follower of the Tour de France for many years and I really enjoyed hearing more about events I remember seeing on TV broadcasts from Ned's "behind-the-scenes" viewpoint. It showed the reality and lack of glamour of life on the road, following the Tour from place to place. Added to that, Ned's trademark humourous approach to recounting both high-profile and unseen episodes really made the book a very funny read. I can't understand how anyone could call the book dull, but maybe you have to be a "Tour Nut" to truely enjoy it and sometimes "get the joke".

I would have given it five stars except that the publishers should have done a better job with the proof reading as there are loads of typographical errors from about page 117 onwards which spoilt my reading experience a bit.
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on 26 April 2013
I have watched the Tour on Channel 4 and now ITV 4 for many many years now, and read as much about the sport and the riders as I can. It was nice to read up on the view from the journalist.

Boulting was a football journalist before landing in France 2 days before the start of the 2004 tour with almost no preparation. He was briefed by members of the team and dropped from a great height into the deep end. The first interview he had with a rider he asked about the yellow jumper (normally jersey) and his reputation was made.

The book loosely follows each Tour, and is interspersed with lots of chapters on individuals in the production team, and riders. There are some really funny bits, and a poignant tribute to a great camera man. This was written prior to Wiggins triumph in 2012, and he writes of the promise that he shows in the Tour, and the Fall of Armstrong, that with hindsight the signs were probably there.

Great read, must for all cycling and Tour fans
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