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3.8 out of 5 stars
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3.8 out of 5 stars
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 21 August 2014
The 1987 Tour de France saw Irishman Stephen Roche triumph, including one of the most memorable scenes in the Tour's history - his dramatic recovery during the stage to La Plagne, followed by his physical collapse after he crossed the finishing line.

It also saw the first British team compete for 20 years, ANC Halfords, whose rather shambolic attempts now look even more poignant given that it was over a couple of decades later that the professionalism and resources of Sky saw a Brit win the Tour de France two years in a row.

1987 is notable for a third reason - it was the tour covered by Jeff Connor's book, Wide-eyed and legless: Insider the Tour de France, rated by Cycle Sport as the top cycling book of all time.

It's a deserved accolade for the book energetically and clearly covers not just the race but many of the wider issues around road racing, including why so many riders ended up regularly cheating with drugs and why too the sport's authorities were often so reluctant to take meaningful action.

Although cycling has changed in many ways since, it is still recognisably the same sport, complete with problems over cheating, prima donna cyclists, vast crowds, oppressive media attention and near-impossible physical challenges for the riders. Some of the lack of professionalism of "professional" teams back then has, however, thankfully been overtaken by bigger budgets and better treatment of the cyclists - at least for male cyclists.

The book itself is a great read, though its structure - an overall account of several stages at once, before doubling back to cover each of the stages in some detail - can make the flow of the story a little confusing at times.

A tip about the audio version of this book: it is missing some of the appendices at the end, even though they are amenable to be read out loud.
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on 15 June 2017
Fascinating eye witness account of the chaotic ANC pro cycling team in the classic 1987 Tour de France. Great writing with style, wit and insider knowledge. Essential catch up to where British cycling is today.
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on 4 February 2016
This is an entertaining read and pre-dates the current spate of band-wagon cycling book writing. Stylistically, it is slightly muddled - a combination of stage write-ups and little anecdotes. The author has recently admitted it could have been better. A lot of the reading involves looking through the results and GC parts and trying to marry them up with the stories that are told.

It gives good insight into how amateurish the British were at trying to match the continental Europeans at their sport. It also makes you wonder what could have been for riders such as Timmis and Elliott had their careers been today and not back then.
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on 13 March 2012
This book at the time it was published was very highly rated, and today it is still a good read, as it describes an era which has long since gone. Turning up to the Tour in such an amateurish way, won't get you very far any more, and it's a shame for the riders involved that they were not supported properly in their brave attempt.

It is though, an essential addition to anyone's cycling library, and easy to read for someone with only a passing interest in the sport.
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on 4 July 2011
A fascinating and reasonably dispassionate view of cycling in that era. But for the British / UK / Scottish / Anglo-Saxon rise to a level of respect in European cycling over the last 15 years, this book would have been almost too cringe-making to read. It's quite sad as the book reflects on potentially great English cyclists who were simply not understood or looked after properly. To read this book is to gain another dimension and reach a new level of understanding of the world of professional road cycling.

I strongly recommend that you immediately follow Wide-eyed and Legless with Sky's the Limit - that is perfect literary juxtaposition. Maybe Sky was trying too hard and did not know enough about the indefinable T de F factor, but it survived well. ANC Halfords were total novices and also did not know enough about the indefinable T de F factor, and it crumbled miserably but not without many moments of humour and laughable behaviour, amongst days and weeks of unbridled heroism from others on the team.
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on 4 March 2016
A great inside view of an unprepared british cycling team. Tactics (or lack of them) tears and laughter. A must read for any sport fan. Glad to say it's a different story now...by a million miles - which is nice !
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on 16 June 2015
Interesting commentary, although I wouldn't say that it is the best cycling book ever written as advertised. But none the less it's worth a read.
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on 13 November 2015
Good condition used copy. The book is not for me -hope son enjoys it. Fast dispatch. All OK - thanks !
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on 20 September 2015
An easy read that describes the romantic punishment of a team unaware of the challange ahead. I enjoyed it
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on 22 January 2016
It's short, which is a good thing for a book about cycling. The true story of a very British adventure.
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