The remarkable biography of a 1948 Olympic cycling champion who became a swashbuckling fortune hunter in Columbia
Matt Rendell, who knew José Beyaert, tells the fascinating story of an almost-forgotten sporting hero who, incapable of living to other people's rules, lived his many lives on his own terms. During World War II, Beyaert boxed and trafficked arms for the Resistance on his bicycle. After that, he became an international cyclist. In 1948, a mile from the end of the Olympic road race around Windsor Park, he broke away alone to take the gold medal and started an adventure that would last the rest of his life. A Tour de France rider in the sport's golden age, José was invited to open a new velodrome in Colombia, South America. He intended to stay a month, but instead, driven by his thirst for adventure, he stayed for 50 years, becoming by turns athlete, coach, businessman, emerald-trader, logger, smuggler, and perhaps even hired killer.