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Sex, Lies and Handlebar Tape: The Remarkable Life of Jacques Anquetil, the First Five-Times Winner of the Tour de France Hardcover – 3 Apr 2008

4.0 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Mainstream Publishing (3 April 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1845963016
  • ISBN-13: 978-1845963019
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 3.3 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 80,849 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"An extraordinary biography" (The Times Magazine)

"Paul Howard has not allowed Anquetil's astonishing love life to overwhelm his equally extraordinary career . . . an impeccably researched book (Book of the Week)" (Independent on Sunday)

"An excellent work" (Daily Telegraph)

"A stunning story" (Shortlist)

Book Description

The first English-language biography of Jacques Anquetil to explore in depth his controversial private life

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Having read widely on cycling, I am rather ashamed to admit I knew virtually nothing about Jacques Anquetil, other than that he won the Tour five times and had a rivalry with Raymond Poulidor. I was, therefore, pleased to see someone had written a biography of the man, and what a worthwhile subject he has proven to be.

Rather sickeningly, Anquetil was, from the very beginning of his career, brilliant. From the age of seventeen, he was winning time trials (his forte) by huge margins against experienced rivals, and, indeed, never lost in the (then) prestigious Grand Prix des Nations, winning it nine times out of nine.

He became "le patron", but without the bullying aggression of Hinault - he stamped his authority by simply riding away from everyone else. However, as Howard suggests, this may well have been through amphetamine use. Howard does not directly link any of his wins to doping but there are several races in which Anquetil began way off the pace (often due to a previous night of excess) only to catch up with a breakaway group and then ride past them to a solo victory.

Perhaps the most astonishing of all was his Dauphine Libere/Bordeaux-Paris (a 557km one-day race) double. The Bordeaux-Paris race began only seven hours after, and six hundred kilometres from, the finish of the Dauphine. Having had no sleep, Anquetil began Bordeaux-Paris exhausted. He was virtually asleep in the saddle for the first part of the race while he was pushed along by Jean Stablinski and Vin Denson either side of him (this section is also worth reading for an amusing anecdote involving Denson, a trapped nerve, and an impressive record of his own).
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Format: Hardcover
this is a book for all fans of procycling.For the older generation it's a reminder of a great champion. For the younger fans it'll be a surprise reading. Anquetil belongs to the magnificent 4. Coppi,Anquetil,Merckx and Hinault.Forget about Armstrong and Indurain. The book gives an insight into the life and career of a champion. No rider to-day would survive doing what he did. His personal life off the bike was quite something which not all readers might approve of, but we are not all petty bourgeois. He lived a full life. The book is extremely well written.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This has the added spice of an extraordinary private life. I would now rate Jacques along with Eddie Merckx, as the contenders for greatest cyclist ever. I had obviously heard of him but had no conception of the number of races he won, and the way he dominated some of them. In addition he was using equipment that would seem outdated now, but still produced amazing average speeds and set world records.

If you buy just one cycling book then I cannot recommend this one highly enough.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I suppose your satisfaction with this biography depends on what you expect from it.

Anquetil retired before I was born, so my knowledge extended no further than his being the first five time winner of the Tour. This biography, provides a basic grounding in his accomplishments, motivation, attitude and palmares. As far as I was concerned it served its purpose. I'm not sure, however, that had I a better base knowledge of Anquteil that this would have contributed a great deal more.

Given Anquetil won over 180 races; 5 Tours, 2 Giro's and a Vuelta, had Howard gone into great depth about each race the book would have run to over 1000 pages, but I can't help feel he stopped short of providing enough detail to satisfy everyone.

Given the jaw-dropping life Anquetil lead on-and-off the bike, and despite providing me with all the information I needed, I can't help feel this could have been better.
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Format: Hardcover
I finished reading Put Me Back on My Bike, the story of Tommy Simpson and was captivated by the cycling world. Fresh from a number of other Tour De France books entwined with chronicles on doping, I was excited by the prospect of this Sex, Lies and Handlebars - particularly as one of the quotes on the back suggested Paul Howard had not got rapped up in the tabloid world of Jacques Anquetil.

Not sure I agree with that.

The book never really goes deep enough into cycling or the world of Anquetil, who made his name first and foremost as a cyclist. It seems to lack substance when referring to his career as a cyclist (less than 2pages dedicated to his first tour de France win), it neatly side steps issues related to drugs and avoids difficult opinions. The most detail comes from interviews with Anquetil's family - so yes, it does get tabloidy.

As a consequence of the lack of substance, it reads like a simple narration of already well documented events and misses any insight.

I don't feel like this book has given me anything more than a complete history of the Tour De France would have done, which would only have a chapter to dedicate to Anquetils era.

Its a real shame, Anquetil was one of the first legends of the sport - fuelled by drugs in a peloton coming to terms with the death of Simpson. It could have been so much more. It should have been.
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