This book tells the tale of the rise of one of Ireland's greatest professional cyclists, Stephen Roche. It is co-authored by David Walsh, who also wrote the definitive biography of Ireland's other great professional cyclist, Sean Kelly.Roche describes his humble beginnings as a milk man apprentice for his father through his rise through the ranks to become only the second cyclist to win the "Triple Crown," the Tour of Italy, The Tour of France and the World Championship in 1987.Packed with details only an insider would know, Roche and Walsh have written a highly entertaining and informative book about the world of professional cycling, the greatest sport in the world.
Read in isolation, the book was a gripping account by one of cycling's all-time greats, of his experience up through his great achievements in 1987, but was obviously written to take advantage of his fame at that time. While I loved the read and found it to be a real page-turner, it left me googling the rest of the day trying to fill in all the rest of the story. I think that's a compliment to the book that it left me wanting to learn more. Roche has a recent new book out that may address some of the questions. This (1988) book was the product of an age of innocence, before the doping scandals, before the full time TV coverage of the TdF. Doping is never once mentioned in the book. Some dirt of other sorts is dished on various personalities of the time. But overall, the picture is of a straight up guy, just doing his job, trying to do his best, trying to make a living and provide for his family, trying to overcome injuries, coping with setbacks, and dealing with the strategic and tactical problems of a complex sport. There is a lot of first person insight into the way the pro peloton really works, though a somewhat cynical reader will no doubt wonder to what extent we are given the whole truth. It may be only a one-sided version of the story, but it's side that was fun to read.
I enjoyed reading this book very much. It was captivating to learn the perspective of Stephen Roche, and the way that he was able to overcome the adversity of having to battle not only against his adversaries in other teams, but also overcome his own team and the rabid tifosi during his Giro victory. Even the title of the book is very descriptive, as this rider's career was a rollercoaster between amazing victories and heartbreaking injuries.