Published to commemorate this year’s 100th running of the Tour de France’s, VeloPress has issued a big, beautiful book full of pictures and text that’s sure to please fans of professional cycling’s grandest grand tour. Those fans will already be aware that the race, which began in 1903, and with interruptions for two world wars, is currently in its 100th iteration in 2013. The race has had its ups and downs over the course of 110+ years, and all those highs and lows are given due attention. The book is divided into 12 chapters, chronologically presented, in roughly decade-long intervals headed by the dominant story (usually a particular rider or rivalry) that defined that era. Jump through the break to see some more screen shots and hear more about this book…
To compliment approximately 250 pictures, journalist and author Richard Moore (see our review of his book, Slaying the Badger here) has added chapters detailing events of the time period, plus very good captions for the pictures, which describe how the picture relates to the story being told in the chapter. Moore is an accomplished writer and will not lull the reader to sleep with dry prose. There such great depth in the writing that you will not simply thumb through the book and be done with it, but will instead be drawn in by the stories being well-told.
The color and black-and-white photographs in this edition are particularly well-chosen, the famous pictures blended with more rarely-published images to give the book a richness and fullness that justifies the $34.95 price tag. The book is featured at Barnes & Noble and is available online as well.
All eras of the race are given roughly equal coverage. Fans will wonder if the current doping scandals are covered; yes, a whole chapter is devoted to Lance Armstrong, and all the dirty laundry in recent headlines is aired. I felt that the doping stories were even-handed, dealing in facts and fallout, leaving the reader to make his own judgements. There were still some amazing races and stories during those years, and this book relives the good with the bad. If you’re like me, the names Coppi and Bartali, Contador, Anquetil, Simpson, Cavendish, LeMond and Hinault, Prudhomme, Bobet, Wiggins, Merckxx, Millar, and Poulidor all evoke different emotions and images. In this book you’ll see and read about all of them, plus many you may have never given a second glance but will learn to appreciate all the more.