Books Featured Reviews

Tour de France 100th Race Anniversary Edition

tdf2013_book_largeOf 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is also a stunningly illustrated visual history with more than 250 photographs and illustrations – many previously unpublished – which elevates this beyond a ‘mere’ history.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,



Featured Features Reviews

Cyclo: Best Books

The popularity of cycling in Great Britain is at an all-time high and if you’re looking for some supporting evidence for that, then the heaving bookshop shelves tell the tale more than adequately. If you’re also looking for a stocking-filler for your cycling-loving loved one or just need a good read to distract you from that winter ride that you’d rather put off, then Cyclo brings you our rundown of the very best cycling books. We’ve mixed and matched some brand-new titles with some perennial favourites and oft overlooked hidden treasures. Enjoy…


My Time – Bradley Wiggins Book Review Top Cycling BooksMy Time – Bradley Wiggins


It has, of course been the year of Wiggo, so no better place to start than with the great man’s autobiography, My Time. Proving he can deliver more than 140-character tweets (although largely ‘ghosted’ by cycling journalist William Fotheringham), Wiggins’ renowned dry wit, level-headedness and downright frankness shines through here and whilst his previous book In Pursuit of Glory felt slightly thin on the ground – in part perhaps because it came pre-national treasure status – My Time packs the full punch. Published by Yellow Jersey, ISBN-10: 022409212X, RRP £20.00, Amazon £9.00


Bradley Wiggins: Tour de Force by John Deering - Team Sky Book Review Top Cycling BooksBradley Wiggins: Tour de Force – John Deering 


Naturally no shortage of other books available on Wiggo too as the clammer and crush for a little vicarious success infects all-known journalists. But best amongst them is, in Cyclo’s opinion, Tour de Force by John Deering who, as a regular contributor to Eurosport’s cycling coverage, Procycling and The Official Tour de France Guide, certainly knows his (French) onions. Intertwining biographical detail with a pretty much day-by-day account of the 2012 Tour, Deering’s book works brilliantly for those wanting to learn more about the intricacies of team tactics in general and Team Sky in particular. Read the full Cyclo review herePublished by Birlinn Ltd, ISBN-10: 1780271034, RRP £12.99, Amazon £9.09


The Flying Scotsman – Graeme Obree Book Review Best Cycling BooksThe Flying Scotsman – Graeme Obree


First published back in 2004, Graeme Obree’s autobiography has lost none of its considerable clout with the kind of candidness that often leaves you open-mouthed. Like all great sports biographies/autobiographies the lesson learned is that from terrible beginnings (and, on occasions, presences) great things can still be achieved. Sir Chris Hoy calls Obree ‘a true inspiration’ (and provides the book’s foreword) and it’s almost impossible to disagree. This is a book that deserves to be better known and wider read – we can’t recommend it highly enough. Published by Birlinn Ltd, ISBN-10: 1841583359, RRP £8.99, Amazon £7.99


French Revolutions: Cycling the Tour de France – Tim Moore Book Review Top Cycling BooksFrench Revolutions: Cycling the Tour de France – Tim Moore


Very much on the lighter side of things Moore takes the everyman approach to tackling the toughest ride in the world. As a self-confessed slouch Moore takes to the roads and, indeed, the mountains to test himself against everything that’s thrown at him – his trademark humour and observational wit carries the book and, whilst you may not learn anything particularly new – it at least proves that, once in a while, the hackneyed phrase ‘laugh-out-loud book’ can be more than appropriate. Published by Vintage, ISBN-10: 0099433826, RRP £8.99, Amazon £6.75


Between the Lines – Victoria Pendleton and Donald McRae Book Review Best Cycling BooksBetween the Lines – Victoria Pendleton and Donald McRae


Having just retired from what has often, rightly, been called a glittering career it’s no surprise to find Victoria Pendleton autobiography on the shelves. In fact much of the donkey-work writing duty has fallen to McRae, but as the double-winner of the William Hill award (for Dark Trade and In Black & White) that’s perhaps no bad thing and Pendleton’s story is both engaging and, at times, enlightening. There is turmoil here to be sure, along with a good dash of raw emotion, but the real target audience is those who have followed her career and admire her brilliance rather than those out for revelations or true insight. Published by HarperSport, ISBN-10: 0007327528, RRP £20.00, Amazon £9.99


It’s Not About the Bike – Lance Armstrong Book Review Best Cycling BooksIt’s Not About the Bike – Lance Armstrong


Really? Hell Yes! Okay so we now know that rather than being the greatest ever Tour de France champion Armstrong was, in fact, the greatest ever Tour de France cheat, but revisiting the book with that in mind brings an excellent new dimension, not to mention sense of irony with regards to the title. Whatever Armstrong did wrong (and it would appear to be legion), there is no taking away from him the fight he undertook against the cancer that ravaged his body. In light of recent revelations this book may no longer be held in such high regard, but if you haven’t read it already now would seem a good time… Published by Yellow Jersey, ISBN-10: 0224060872, RRP £8.99, Amazon £6.29


Racing Through the Dark – David Millar Book Review Best Cycling BooksRacing Through the Dark – David Millar


And on the subject of doping… Millar pretty much begins his tale of rise and fall and rise  again with the lines: ‘My name is David Millar. I am a professional cyclist, an Olympic athlete, a Tour de France star, a world champion – and a drugs cheat.’ A powerful start and so in continues, with one of the most painful (and painfully honest) accounts of the pressures of professional cycling ever put to paper. Don’t dismiss this book as an exercise in self-flagellation; no doubt it was part of Millar’s redemptive process, but his honesty to improve and fight the good fight burns on every page. Read the full Cyclo review herePublished by Orion, ISBN-10: 1409120384, RRP £8.99, Amazon £6.29


Road to Valour – Aili and Andres McConnon Book Review Best Cycling BooksRoad to Valour – Aili and Andres McConnon


Or to give it its staggeringly long full title ‘Road to Valour: Gino Bartali: Tour de France Legend and Italy’s Secret World War Two Hero’. The McConnons may be guilty of overly breathy narrative prose, but Bartali’s story of rise from rural poverty to multiple wins at the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France pretty much warrants it, especially when considering his sideline as WWII Italian Resistance hero. This is real ‘boy’s own’ stuff, likely to appeal as much to non-cyclists and cyclists. A thriller wrapped up in a sports biography… Read the full Cyclo review herePublished by W&N, ISBN-10: 0297859994, RRP £20.00, Amazon £13.50


Books Featured Reviews

Bradley Wiggins: Tour de Force

Bradley Wiggins: Tour de Force by John Deering - Team SkyHard to move without bumping into another book on Bradley Wiggins – his autobiography, My Time, is out, as is an update of his In Pursuit of Glory, and the official Team Sky’s 21 Days to Glory. Then there are the books Richard Moore, Daniel Friebe, Press Association Sports, et al. Britain’s first ever Tour de France winner and Olympic hero is certainly proving a gift to publishers… We have to assume the collective noun for these is ‘a peloton’ and amongst this bunch we find Bradley Wiggins: Tour de Force by John Deering, a regular contributor to Eurosport’s cycling coverage, Procycling and The Official Tour de France Guide. The fact that Deering has arguably nabbed the best title for his book reveals something of the tabloid headline nature of his book, but where it succeeds is in perfectly balancing biographic history with a virtual day-by-day account of Wiggins’ 2012 Tour de France battle, thus splicing together several of the other viral titles available.


Deering pulls off his trick by alternating chapters between breathless present tense details of the TdF with stories of Wiggins’ childhood and rise through the ranks. Whilst the latter is really better detailed in Wiggins’ own books and words, Deering’s blow-by-blow of the Tour is both evocative and perfect for those looking to learn more about the machinations of team tactics and minutiae of life on the road. If you can forgive the tabloidisms (‘He kisses the podium girls with the relaxed confidence of a former lover’) then Tour de Force is a rewarding read that ranks amongst the best on its subject.


Bradley Wiggins: Tour de Force by John Deering is published by Birlinn Ltd, £12.99 RRP paperback (ISBN-10: 1780271034) and £8.15 Kindle Edition. Available from


Books Reviews

Road to Valour

Gino Bartali was born into near poverty in rural Italy on the eve of the First World War, yet rose to become one of the greatest names in European cycling, winning the Giro three times – 1936, 1937 and 1946 – and the Tour de France twice, first in 1938 and again in 1948 (the largest ever gap between TdF wins.) But this is not the only focus of ‘Road to Valour’, written by brother and sister Aili and Andres McConnon, because Bartali was also a war hero, secretly aiding the Italian Resistance and in so doing becoming a national hero…


The full title of the book is the exhaustingly long ‘Road to Valour: Gino Bartali: Tour de France Legend and Italy’s Secret World War Two Hero’ and here, we feel, the problems begin (not least because Cyclo never trusts a title with more than one colon…)


The McConnons recount the story in minute detail; ten years of research calling on first hand interviews with family members and team mates and dialogue culled from newsreels, papers and Bartali’s own writing. They are at pains to point out that the book is not a work of fiction; an ascertain they probably feel obliged to make because their often florid prose reads like an historic novel of lurid proportions. Their manner is likely to divide readers; a Marmite style that will either carry you along with the drama or distract you in an avalanche of over-wrought phrases and laboured similes. The fact that the book really falls between two stalls (outright drama and serious academic history) is never more evident than in the approach they take to footnoting their text – more than 50 pages of suffix notes are contained but not a single one is easily approached because none are referenced in the main body, leaving you trying blindly to find out where a quote or fact may have come from. It smacks, in short, of uncertainty.


A shame then as Bartali’s story is a fascinating and, indeed, important one. As a cyclist few have equalled his meteoric rise (certainly in the face of such social and political adversity), and as a war hero – a sort of Italian Oskar Schindler if you will – his bravery and moral integrity are truly inspirational. If you can get beyond the McConnon’s bombastic hyperbole an excellent read lays beneath.


‘Road to Valour: Gino Bartali: Tour de France Legend and Italy’s Secret World War Two Hero’ (phew!) is published by W&N, £20.00 RRP hardback (ISBN-10: 0297859994) and £10.99 Kindle Edition. Available from