- Hardcover: 224 pages
- Publisher: Mainstream Publishing; Updated edition (May 1, 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1840181923
- ISBN-13: 978-1840181920
- Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 1.2 x 9.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 12 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,811,375 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Tour de France: The History, the Legend, the Riders Hardcover – May 1, 1999
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There are some excellent passages in the book that give some glimpses into the personalities of the Tour. I was fascinated by Fife's portrayal of Henri Desgranges as both a stern and somewhat sadistic Tour director, how he shaped the Tour in its early days but also had the wisdom to bend with the times which allowed the Tour to grow into the premier event that it is today. There are gripping stories of what the early riders had to endure: attempted poisonings, poor nutrition, breaking bikes, trickery and sabotage.
Unfortunately the reader pays a price. One has to wade through some paragraphs of overly flowery writing that will make you cringe. For example, Fife writes about the Col du Glandin:
"Cloud pours over its rim, as it were from a hidden chimney serving the troll furnaces in the mountain's heart. Billows of smoke as white as steam, enough to herald a whole consistory full of new Popes. A diabolic machine stoking up ready for the engorging of the lone, the intrepid, Knight of the Campagnolo Gears advancing to meet the Dragon of the Mount Vicious in its swirls of inspissated mist."
See what I mean? Sometimes it's difficult to peer into Fife's writing, as if it is indeed obscured by swirls of inspissated mist.
Bottom line: if you can bear some overly romantic writing as well as some strong opinions, then this book may be worthwhile to get a series of unique glimpses into Tour history.
The pictures were few and not particularly helpful. And since they were black and white it was funny when he referred to Landis as the rider in the "green, yellow, and white strip"!
Worth a read if only to help understand the origins of the drugs scandals of recent years which can be traced back to the early years of the sport.