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on 22 July 2013
Life is cynical. In this ghosted memoir Charly Wegelius relates his story from darling of British Cycling to eventually making his name in the peloton with many setbacks in between.

He never won a race as a pro. The pressure of team leadership exposed his limitations whereas he felt comfortable as a support rider. The Grand Tours became his metier, particularly the Giro d'Italia, which he regarded as his own race. If the Vuelta taught him how to survive, the Tour emerges as big, brash and lacking glamour with no time to relax. Riders feel stressed, particularly in the first week, when there are frequent accidents.

For Wegelius, doping was a personal thing. This avoids the issue. However, it was routine and he explodes the myth of omerta. Unusually, but not uniquely, he had a naturally high haematocrit level which, although accepted by the UCI, left him feeling vulnerable, his career innocently threatened by nature.

Nadir came at the 2005 world road race championships in Madrid. Without any naïve patriotism, Wegelius was riding for a living and a future. Although raced in national teams, it was not unknown for a rider to help a commercial teammate, for money. Wegelius struck a deal with the Italians at their instigation. The fallout affected him and a teammate who had been complicit in the arrangement. Both were banned for life from the national team. Further afield, the GB team manager resigned.

With maturity, Wegelius became a sage within the peloton. However, the Tour of 2010 became one Tour too many. Mentally and physically exhausted, disillusioned by the fickleness of pro cycling, he needed change. Marriage brought him the support and consistency that he had not known for a long time.
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on 16 November 2014
A good read, but Charly dodges the drugs issue, and his claim that he couldn't bite the hand that fed him stinks like rotten fish, but on the whole it gives you insight into the life of a domestique and the punishment that all pro-cyclists put themselves through.
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on 18 April 2017
Very interesting insight to the world of the pro cyclist. What a guy Charly Wegelius is - been there, done that and came out stronger for it. Inspiration.
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on 14 August 2014
A true reflection of a true cycling professional - great book! Highly recommended as an inspiration to the hard work required as a professional cyclist.
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VINE VOICEon 16 March 2014
This surprised me. As a keen cyclist, I have read many/ most of the cycling books, and this was an interesting one- in so much that I found myself liking him less and less as the book continued. He has little to say nice about anything, and although it may be totally honest (except- famously- he skirts over the drugs), it is a gloomy, uninspiring, grey portrayal of a career, borderline depressing. I have never read a book like this before- the others all say the positives of which Charly mentions few. For that, I can only give it 3 stars- one of the few books that instead of making me want to ride my bike, it made me want to sell it.
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on 9 June 2013
Before the advent of team sky, Cav & Wiggo mania, cycling was a peculiar sport in Britain practised by few and understood by even less, most participants like myself had a Father or other introduction to the sport, very few kids in the late 70's and 80's grew up wanting a road bike, never mind a professional cycling career.

Robert Millar's tour exploits were 5 minutes on World of Sport on Saturday lunchtime, and you waited every week for your copy of 'Cycling' to find out what had happened in the tour, live coverage in English on tv? Forget it, when Channel 4 did 30 minutes of Tour de France every night I thought it would never get better than this, but it did, big time.

Against this backdrop, that a lad from York with no connection to the sport went abroad alone at 17, turned pro and remained employed for over a decade is nothing short of amazing.

To paraphrase Paul Sherwen on Charly's first Pro contract, 'many get a first pro deal, not many get a second', eleven year's worth is a tale in itself, with to the outside world no obvious wins to justify it; there's patently a great story to be told.

To have raced at the highest level with Evans, Basso, Cipo, Freire et al in the world's biggest races, adds to the spice but at the end of the day it's a tale of a true professional, and the realities of life once the scales have fallen from the eyes and a living has to be made.

It's a must read for anyone wanting to understand modern professional cycling, whether you're a 'mamil' inspired by Wiggo to buy a bike for the first time in 20 years or a 40 something life-long cyclist like me, who rode & raced with plenty of great cyclists who never made it - the story is even more remarkable.
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on 28 July 2015
Life in the pro racing peloton isn't all about a mega-bucks salary, five star hotels and business class flights, as this fascinating insight from Charly Wegelius shows. Well worth reading for an idea as to how difficult pro road racing is to get into and how, for the vast majority of riders, it's just a job and frequently an unglamorous one. Very interesting and well ghosted. A better read than the autobiogs of some of his more illustrious colleagues.
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on 9 June 2013
Wow. Irv, the previous reviewer, is pretty bitter. I suppose he hasn't actually read the book. But just saw the name and had to spew some venom and bile.

CW did what ten thousand other cyclists have done at the works championships. He put his trade team, the people who pay his wages 365 days a year, infront of his country, who expect his total loyalty one day of the year. CW lived in Italy, rode for an Italian team, and rode for his Italian team leader, and doubtless followed orders from those who paid his wages. So what ? Most of us would have done the same. Like it or not.

Until very recently, GB was an also ran in world cycling. We didn't have Cav to win sprints. Or Wiggins and Froome. For most of my time as a cyclist we were lucky to get a finisher. I remember when Robert Millar got a top ten finish. He did it with the massive help of an Australian, Alan Pieper. Alan wasn't a traitor to Australia. They both rode for Peugeot, and Alan knew it made more sense to ride for Robert, his team mate, team leader and friend. That's how cycling worked back then, and still does, in most cases.

So it might be useful, Irv, if you read the book and gave an honest review. Rather than spew hate about something that happened over a decade ago. I'm sure you're pure and honest, and have never done anything that was contradictory and based on expediency. But in the real world, people do what what they have to do. He might not have liked doing it. He might have hated it. But those who pay the wages and have control of next years contract, call the tune.

I've never met CW. But to call him a traitor and give him one star is pretty pathetic. You need to wake up and understand how cycling and the world really works. Grow up. Riding a few Sportifs and reading Cycling Weakly for a year isn't the same as being a domestique and riding Grand Tours in the hardest, most brutal sport in the world.
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on 11 February 2016
The use of the 'F word' on every other page completely spoils a good read.
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on 9 July 2014
A good book for enlightening starry eyed amateurs about the shady world of pro cycling, spoilt by the constant inclusion of bad language. Why authors think a cart load of Anglo-Saxon expletives will increase sales I just don't know. This language is fine for the factory floor or the peloton, but has no place in a book. I almost gave up on it after two chapters. I'm pleased I didn't as Charly has a salutary tale to tell of an insecure world, and you do feel empathy for him. His version of the betrayal of the British team in the world championships (for 30 pieces of silver read 2,500 euros) does little for him other than highlight the murky scene he was part of. He's quite right that the expectation that riders work for free for another pro is wrong. However, betraying your country is not an action that finds favour with either fans or the public at large, and I'm sure his action closed more doors than it opened.
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