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Tour De France: The History, the Legend, the Riders Paperback – 6 Nov 2008
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The book is worth reading for any hardcore Tour lover but casual fans will probably find it overlong, confusingly eccentric in its mixing of present and past tense. It's also not really a history as such so much as a mulling of recent editions with some general chapters tacked on. I didn't mind the opinionated stance on almost every cycling subject; too often journalists shy away from contentious views when they should be prepared to state the obvious.
I suspect this will never be a great book but it has the germ of it if only an editor and fact checker could get hold it of it. It is staggering that some of the daft factual flaws were not addressed between different editions but that's a criticism of the publisher as much as the author.
This interest soon wained, though. I found this book very hard going- to the point of nearly being boring. It is complete, and very knowledgeable, but is a bit nerdy. I am passionate about cycling- but this is the next stage. It is almost as if the author wanted to show everyone how much he knows.
And there is little continuity throughout. It rambles like a pub conversation, jumping from year to year, decade to decade, like an alcoholic slips from grape to hop. Like many cycling books, it mixes the authors experiences with history- and suffers for this.
Another thing I found discerning is the bolt on at the end of the last tours since 1988- in year progression. Yes, these sections were well wrote, and interesting, but it marks a complete polar change in the writing style off the book, which under minds it. It is obvious that they are added on each year, which is fine- but the events of the previous year are not up dated. I also find it interesting that the dehydration, which Lance Armstrong (which the author is clearly not the biggest fan of) suffered in 2003 is not touched on.
Did I learn from the book? Yes. But it suffers from the coldness of a text book, without the warmth of a biography.
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