14 February 2014

More chapters in the Lance Armstrong story and some different takes on the Tour de France

CYCLING BOOKS TO LOOK OUT FOR IN 2014


The boom in cycling books has been a feature of recent years in the sports books market, their popularity fuelled by a mix of success stories and shame.

On the one hand, the likes of Bradley Wiggins, Mark Cavendish, Chris Froome and Chris Hoy have taken British cycling to a new level in terms of achievement on the road and track.

On the other, the doping revelations that engulfed seven-times Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong have placed cycling at the heart of a scandal unprecedented in the sporting world.

The Wiggins autobiography My Time was the biggest selling sports book of 2012, while the William Hill Sports Book of the Year for 2012 was Tyler Hamilton's The Secret Race, based on the Grand Jury evidence that exposed Armstrong as the biggest drug cheat of all time.

The Armstrong story spawned another William Hill contender last year in Seven Deadly Sins, in which journalist David Walsh's detailed his dogged pursuit of the truth, and will rumble on in 2014.

New York Times journalist Juliet Macur brings her perspective to the story in Cycle of Lies (William Collins), based on interviews with key players in the Armstrong drama and broadening the story to expose more corruption at all levels of cycling. Cycle of Lies is due out in March.

In May, Michael Barry, who supported Armstrong as part of the US Postal Team, describes his part in the scandal in Shadows on the Road (Faber & Faber).  Barry retired from professional cycling in 2012, shortly before testifying against Armstrong as part of the US Anti-Doping Agency investigation.

Barry accepted a six-month suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs while riding for US Postal, along with the stripping of all his results between May 2003 and July 2006.

In July, Emma O'Reilly, the Irish-born masseuse who became Armstrong's confidante and ultimately his whistle blower, will hit the book stands with Race to Truth (Bantam Press), in which she details not only what she saw as an insider in the Armstrong camp but the years of bullying and lies she endured as attempts were made to destroy her reputation and credibility.

The same month sees a reissued and updated version of A Clean Break (Bloomsbury), written by Christophe Bassons, the French rider driven to quit the sport after his stand against drugs led him to be shunned by fellow riders and confronted by Armstrong, who told him to leave the tour.

Also in July, Nicole Cooke, the Great Britain rider who in 2012 became the first to win Olympic and world road race titles in the same year, goes into print with The Breakaway (Simon & Schuster), which promises to continue where she left off in the damning speech she delivered when she retired in early 2013, when she attacked Armstrong, Hamilton and every other rider who owed their success to drugs for cheating legions of honest, clean competitors out of the glory and prizes that should have been theirs.

Thankfully, 2014 is not all about Lance Armstrong.  There are plenty of titles coming up that celebrate the more glorious aspects of competitive cycling and underline why the sport enjoys such enormous popularity.

Richard Moore, whose six cycling books so far include portraits of David Millar and Team Sky chief Dave Brailsford as well as the acclaimed Slaying The Badger, which focussed on the epic 1986 Tour de France, adds another in June when HarperSport published Étape: The Untold Stories of the Tour de France's Defining Stages, in which each chapter focuses on a single rider in a single stage that became a defining moment in the history of the world's greatest cycling race.

Armstrong's part in the history of the Tour cannot, of course, be airbrushed out, and such a book would be incomplete without the American's emotionally charged win in Limoges in 1995 or his dramatic, drug-fuelled victory eight years later at Luz Ardiden.  Moore revisits too Chris Boardman’s famous debut in 1994, Mark Cavendish’s best and worst stages, as well as iconic stages featuring giants of the sport: Eddy Merckx’s toughest Tour, Bernard Hinault’s journey through hell, Greg LeMond’s return from near-death, and the tragic Marco Pantani’s domination of the most controversial race in Tour history.

The Tour features elsewhere in Marguerite Lazell's updated Complete History of the Tour de France (Carlton Books), due out in April, as well as an updated Tour de France: The History, the Legends, the Riders, by Graeme Fife (Mainstream, September) and a fresh edition of Mapping Le Tour, by Ellis Bacon (Collins, May), a history illustrated with full page maps of the routes of all 100 races so far.

In April, Max Leonard looks at the Tour from a different angle in Lanterne Rouge: The Last Man in the Tour de France (Yellow Jersey), which tells the absurd and inspirational stories of the last placed riders in the Tour de France, from the former wearer of the yellow jersey who tasted life at the other end of the bunch, to the breakaway leader who stopped for a bottle wine and then cycled the wrong way, and the day the fastest finisher of all time, Mark Cavendish, became the slowest.

Yellow Jersey's catalogue also includes Geronimo! Riding the Very Terrible 1914 Tour of Italy, by Tim Moore, in which travel writer Moore, whose account of riding the Tour de France route, French Revolutions, won huge acclaim, retraces the tracks of the eight riders (from 81 starters) who managed to complete the 1914 Giro d'Italia, which has subsequently become recognised as the hardest bike race in history.  For good measure, he does so on a 100-year-old bike.

Alasdair Fotheringham, brother of the prolific William, follows up his biography of Federico Bahamontes (The Eagle of Toledo) with Reckless: The Life and Times of Luis Ocana (Bloomsbury, May). Ocana. who died in mysterious circumstances at the age of only 48, became Spain's second Tour de France winner in 1973, Bahamontes having been the first, in 1959.  Fotheringham doubles as cycling correspondent and Spain correspondent for The Independent.

Also from Bloomsbury, look out in March for Faster: The Obsession, Science and Luck Behind the World's Fastest Cyclists, in which Michael Hutchinson, the professional cyclist turned writer, explains how training, nutrition, psychology and many other factors play a part in the quest for speed, and for The Monuments: The Grit and the Glory of Cycling's Greatest One-Day Races, in which Peter Cossins tells the story of the five legendary races -- the so-called 'Monuments' -- that are the sport’s equivalent of golf’s majors or the grand slams in tennis. Milan–Sanremo, the Tour of Flanders, Paris­–Roubaix, Liège–Bastogne–Liège and the Tour of Lombardy.

Biographies to anticipate include Battle Scars (Hardie Grant), by the popular Australian rider Stuart O'Grady, and Chris Boardman's life story Triumphs and Turbulence (Ebury), due out in June.

Look for more information and details of how to pre-order any of these books at Amazon, Waterstones or WHSmith.

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2 comments:

  1. Faber & faber are to publish Michael Barry's new book Shadows on the road in May

    ReplyDelete
  2. Many thanks for pointing out that oversight, which I have now corrected.

    ReplyDelete

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