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Pedalare! Pedalare! A History of Italian Cycling Paperback – 3 May 2011
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If you read only one sporting book this year, make it Pedalare! Pedalare! ... Absorbing, compelling and brilliant (Evening Standard)
Sparkling ... alive with terrific characters ... The key to [Foot's] success lies with the larger-than-life characters who people these pages (Spectator)
The first general account in English of the second biking culture ... As this year's Giro d'Italia hopefuls head out over a dramatic parcours, the ghosts Foot evokes will stir once more (Independent on Sunday)
An expert on sport, but more importantly on Italian culture, history and society, [John Foot] has now turned his eye to cycling ... If you want to understand Italian cycling, read this book ... Fascinating (Cycle Sport)
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I found it hard to put down, the characters I knew of as being cycling names long before I turned a pedal came to life again. I was left feeling that I had become very much closer to the passions of the tiffosi that line the routes of the Giro'd'Italia and other classic cycle races than I thought possible.
This is a book very different to most other books covering cycling, to partially quote an advertising phrase, it reaches the parts others do not. Reading it was a very fullfilling experience.
The author blames the growing use of motor cars and scooters, television and doping scandals, which combined to remove the close links to the sport from a population that used the bicycle as the main form of transport, for the demise of cycle racing as Italy's number one sport. Sadly, the author sees no return to those days. I am old enough to have lived through the Coppi and Bartali era when their racing epics were well recorded in the continental cycling magazines we were then able to buy even in small Lincolnshire towns. My big regret is that I had a ticket for the Coppi track appearance at Herne Hill but chose instead to support a clubmate in a local 25.
The author occasionally slips up on the technicalities of cycle racing but this is a only a minor quibble for a well researched and written book.
My advice would be to buy both as both have something to offer the reader.
It was a case of binge reading as it was difficult to put the book down.
Professor Foot offers a real insight into the race but also Italy.
I would have preferred further detail on some of the anecdotes and stories but found the characters and personalities that have richly embroidered Italian cycling very interesting.