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Customer Review

32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Controversial, sometimes hypocritical, but very interesting..., 26 May 2012
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This review is from: Riis (Paperback)
If, like me, you have mixed feelings about Bjarne Riis from what you know of his past, but don't know him personally, expect this book to challenge those feelings. I finished his book with a different view of the man than I started with - my feelings are still mixed, but in a somewhat different way.

Firstly, putting the man to one side, the book itself. I'm judging the book by the standards of other cycling biographies and autobiographies - and I have read quite a few. I haven't given it five stars because it is a classic of modern literature; it isn't, but then that wasn't what I was looking for.

Instead I have given it a top rating simply because it is fascinating - pretty much throughout. Indeed the parts of many cycling biographies I find the least interesting (such as the early years of the rider's life) were very well written and some of the strongest parts of the book. Riis's early years as an amazingly committed child cyclist and then as a pro - when he really struggled to make it - are probably the least famous, yet most heroic, years of his life. The account of his doping is more detailed and more open than I expected (though he refrains from pointing the figure at others). His account as manager of numerous controversial and leading riders since - such as Jalabert, Sastre, Hamilton, the Schleck brothers and Contador - is also insightful (though perhaps not as much as it would be if more years had passed since events and he wasn't still very much involved in cycling).

It isn't perfect. For example, the last few chapters read as though they have been tacked on afterwards (and indeed maybe they were). But as they bring the book up-to-date to 2012, they were nonetheless very worthwhile. The accounts of his "triumphs" as a cyclist are also rather less exciting to read in light of what one knows about his performance enhancing drug use. Nonetheless, overall I do think it is worthy of a high rating.

From reading the book, my views on Riis himself are more mixed. His early life is tough, impressive and, in some parts, heroic. His reliance on drugs and his leaving his first wife and children, lamentable. To me, he also came across as hypocritical at times, seemingly without realising it. In one chapter he complains about the lack of loyalty within his team as the Schleck brothers and others are looking to leave for another team. At the same time he is busy trying to recruit Contador from the Astana team.

At the same time, I can't help seeing him as likeable and impressive in other respects. His honesty in parts of the book - such as about private comments he made about his father and later regretted - is also very impressive.

I'm not sure how much Riis has not revealed, but what he has covered in this book is never dull and I thoroughly enjoyed reading his book.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 26 Sep 2012, 17:41:48 BST
Why read this from one of the cyclists that ruined a once great sport, especially the way he flaunted it, and made no effort to hide it, Hautocam climb springs to mind, sorry but I would not buy this book same as i would not buy David Millars book

In reply to an earlier post on 11 Nov 2012, 19:41:15 GMT
Yorkie says:
I understand that point of view. My own subject take on this however is that it is a mistake to forget those who have been found to have cheated - like the UCI suggested Armstrong should be forgotten. I think learning from the past is likely to be more productive - and David Millar's excellent book is a great step in that direction. Also query which prior era in cycling you consider to have been particularly 'clean' - presumably not those of Merckx, Anquetil, Simpson, Riviere, Pollentier, etc.?
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