NEW BOOKS - SOME HIGHLIGHTS
Bernard Hinault and the Fall and Rise of French Cycling, by William Fotheringham (Yellow Jersey)
The striking from the record of Lance Armstong's seven wins reinstated Bernard Hinault as the champion of multiple Tour de France victories, jointly with his French compatriot Jacques Anquetil, the legendary Belgian Eddy Merckx and Spain's Miguel Indurain, all of whom won the race five times.
Yet three decades on from his retirement, Hinault remains the last Frenchman to win the Tour. His victory in 1985 marks the turning point when the nation who had dominated the first eight decades of the race they had invented suddenly found they were no longer able to win it.
Hinault was a larger-than-life character from a working-class background. Nicknamed the 'Badger' for his combative style, he led a cyclists’ strike in his first Tour and instigated a legendary punch-up with political demonstrators who brought the 1982 race to a halt. Hinault's battles with team-mates Laurent Fignon and Greg LeMond provide some of the greatest moments in Tour history.
In Bernard Hinault and the Fall and Rise of French Cycling, the author and journalist author William Fotheringham, whose back catalogue includes a best-selling portrait of Eddy Merckz, unravels this fascinating character and explores the reasons why the nation that considers itself cycling’s home has found it so hard to produce another champion.
Fotheringham, who covers cycling for the Guardian and Observer, is the author of Merckx: Half Man, Half Bike as well as Fallen Angel: The Passion of Fausto Coppi and Put Me Back On My Bike: In Search of Tom Simpson, plus Roule Britannia: Great Britain and the Tour de France.
David Gower's 50 Greatest Cricketers of All Time (Icon Books)
David Gower, the former England captain and batting stylist, attempts to name his 50 greatest players of all time, a task he confesses what much more difficult even than he imagined. it was, he says in the introduction, subject to several revisions, which should at least reassure the reader that he took the process seriously.
The list covers every era, not only his own, although his descriptions of his contemporaries benefit from some illuminating first-hand recollections and anecdotes. Who was the best of the great West Indian quicks? Have England heroes like Geoff Boycott, Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff made the cut? Who has been the greatest Australian batsman, post-Bradman? All is revealed in this lively and contentious celebration of cricket's true greats.
Pietersen does make the list, coming in somewhat further down the pecking order than some would put him. Gower admits there were grounds for leaving him out over his behaviour but reckons it would have been unjust to do so, not least because the outrageous talent that many assume was a gift was actually developed through endless hours of practice.
Gower's top 10 reveals, not surprisingly, a bias towards batsmen. It also contains four West Indians, three Englishmen, two Australians and one Indian. but that's where the clues end.
The Ali Files: His Fights, His Foes, His Fees, His Feats, His Fate, by Norman Giller (Pitch Publishing)
Although it is more than 30 years since Muhammad Ali last threw a punch, he remains probably the best-known sportsman of all time. A whole generation now only know the legend of The Greatest, never saw him fight, and yet are in awe of the man, his fantastic feats and his unique character.
Norman Giller, the British journalist and author, became friends with Ali when he worked as his European publicist, and he has gathered many other intimate eyewitnesses, among them opponents, referees, trainers, sparring partners, celebrity fans and ringside reporters, to recall Ali's astonishing adventures in and out of the ring.
Millions of words have been written about ringmaster Ali, but few books have concentrated on the 61 professional contests that turned him into a sporting legend. The Ali Files will give you a ringside seat to the greatest boxing career of all time.
Athletics 2015: The International Track & Field Annual, edited by Peter Matthews (Sportsbooks)
Now in its 129th year, the 2015 edition of the athletics bible features French pole vaulter Renaud Lavillenie as its front cover star, following his 2014 achievement that many thought was impossible, namely to break the great Sergey Bubka’s world record.
Not only that he had the nerve to better it in Bubka's hometown of Donetsk, Ukraine. He also claimed his third European title, won the overall Diamond League title and extended his unbeaten streak to 21 competitions before he failed to clear a height in Stockholm. As usual the annual is packed full of essential information for the track and field enthusiast, with results and reports from all major championships.
Stirling Moss: My Racing Life, by Sir Stirling Moss with Simon Taylor (Evro Publishing)
In a book published to mark the 60th anniversary of Moss' famous win in the 1955 Mille Miglia road race in a Mercedes 300SLR, Stirling Moss guides the reader through his motor racing life with a fascinating, insightful and often amusing commentary to an unrivalled collection of over 300 photographs, many of which will be unfamiliar to even his most ardent fans.
He takes us from his childhood to the height of his fame as 'Mr Motor Racing' and then to the sudden end of his career with that crash at Goodwood in 1962. Along the way, the reader can dwell on his finest moments as well as the setbacks, including that 1955 Mercedes season and its twin highlights a winning the Mille Miglia and the British Grand Prix and his two brilliant Formula One seasons with the British team Vanwall, as well as his two celebrated Monaco Grand Prix wins for Rob Walker.
There is a foreword by 2014 Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton.