Of course there are no end of books on various aspects of the Tour de France and numerous biographies of those you have ridden it to fill in the more personal (often painful) minutiae. But now, thanks to publishers Quercus, comes a book as rich and beguiling as the race itself. Tour de France 100th Race Anniversary Edition, authored by Françoise Laget, Gilles Montgermont, Serge Laget and Philippe Cazaban is an enormous volume that pulls off the seemingly impossible trick of being both concise and suitably detailed in turn.
Covering the birth of the TdF before dedicating a page per race through the subsequent one hundred editions, it includes overviews that capture the agony and ecstasy along with brief stats, such as final standings, total distances, average winner speed and map, all of which helps contextualise things. But this, perhaps, is not the book’s strongest selling point (excellent though the prose are) as Tour de France 100th Race Anniversary Edition is also a stunningly illustrated visual history with more than 250 photographs and illustrations – many previously unpublished – which elevates this beyond a ‘mere’ history.
Those that think they know the TdF are likely to find bountiful nuggets of archaic and obscure information here and the photographs will continue to captivate long after this year’s winner reaches the Champs-Élysées. As a written history, with substantial sidebars, this book is near perfect; as a collectable coffee table picture book it is unsurpassed.
Tour de France 100th Race Anniversary Edition is published by Quercus (ISBN-10: 1782064141) and worth every penny of the £30 cover price. Available from, amongst others, Amazon.co.uk