One of the exciting sporting events of the summer is the Tour de France https://www.letour.fr/en/, an annual men’s multiple stage bicycle race primarily held in France, while also occasionally passing through nearby countries.
It has been described as “the world’s most prestigious and most difficult bicycle race.” and riders from all over the world participate in the race each year. The race has been held annually since its first edition in 1903 except when it was stopped for the two World Wars.
While the route changes each year, the format of the race stays the same with the appearance of time trials, the passage through the mountain chains of the Pyrenees and the Alps, and the finish on the Champs-Élysées in Paris. The modern editions of the Tour de France consist of 21 day-long segments (stages) over a 23-day period and cover around 3,500 kilometres (2,200 mi).
Primarily held in the month of July, the 107th edition of the race this year has been postponed to August 29, finishing on September 20, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Below are some books/ebooks available from the Library collection about the history of the Tour and some of the major players (and the deplorable scandals!), as well as some fiction reads if that’s more up your alley. If you have been missing sports and looking forward to watching the race on television, hope these books will get you more excited!
Cycle of Lies: The Fall of Lance Armstrong by Juliet Macur
Draws on interviews with more than one hundred people close to the famous athlete to chronicle fourteen critical years in his career, from his cancer recovery to his precipitous fall after revelations about his systematic doping became public.
From its inception, the 1903 Tour de France was a colorful affair. Cyclists of the time weren’t enthusiastic about participating in this “heroic” race on roads more suited to hooves than wheels, with bikes weighing up to thirty-five pounds, on a single fixed gear, for three full weeks. Assembling enough riders for the race meant paying unemployed amateurs from the suburbs of Paris, including a butcher, a chimney sweep and a circus acrobat. Starting in the Parisian suburb of Montgeron, the route took the intrepid cyclists through Lyon, over the hills to Marseille, then on to Toulouse, Bordeaux, and Nantes, ending with great fanfare at the Parc des Princes in Paris. There was no indication that this ramshackle cycling pack would draw crowds to throng France’s rutted roads and cheer the first Tour heroes. But they did; and all thanks to a marketing ruse, cycling would never be the same again.
The Invisible Mile: a novel by David Coventry
The 1928 Ravat-Wonder team from New Zealand and Australia were the first English-speaking team to ride the Tour de France. From June through July they faced one of the toughest in the race’s history: 5,476 kilometres of unsealed roads on heavy, fixed-wheel bikes. They rode in darkness through mountains with no light and brakes like glass. They weren’t expected to finish. This novel is a powerful re-imagining of the tour from inside the peloton, where the test of endurance, for one young New Zealander, becomes a psychological journey into the chaos of the War a decade earlier.
From the Col du Tourmalet to Alpe d’Huez, from Mont Ventoux to Luz Ardiden, these climbs are the beating heart of the Tour de France.For each of the 100 climbs this guide includes: A detailed description of the climb with an accompanying photograph, a map detailing the start and end of the climb with directions to help you find it, a factfile with altitude, height gain, average gradient, it’s tour debut and category, a difficulty rating.
A Race For Madmen: A History Of The Tour De France by Chris Sidwells
This book traces how the Tour de France has developed and examines tactics, bike technology and rider preparation too. It profiles some of the men who have won the Tour de France, and others who have been key players, looking closely at their lives and motivation. Subsidiary competitions, such as the King of the Mountains prize, are featured, as well as Tour lore and traditions.
The Secret Race: Inside the Hidden World of the Tour de France by Tyler Hamilton & Daniel Coyle
Hamilton pulls back the curtain on the Tour de France and takes us into the secret world of professional cycling like never before: the doping, the lying, and his years as Lance Armstrong’s teammate on U.S. Postal. Over the course of two years, New York Times bestselling author Daniel Coyle conducted more than two hundred hours of interviews with Hamilton and spoke with numerous teammates, rivals, and friends. The result is an explosive page-turner of a book that takes us deep inside a shadowy, fascinating, and surreal world of unscrupulous doctors, anything-goes team directors, and athletes so relentlessly driven to win that they would do almost anything to gain an edge.
The essential guide to the Tour de France, this will make you an instant expert on its history, its winners and rivalries, the tactics necessary to win it, and the technology of its bicycles.
The gripping story of the greatest race in cycling history, when Greg LeMond cinched victory by a mere eight seconds.
Taking place over twenty-three days in July and across more than 2,100 miles of smooth blacktop, rough cobblestones, and punishing mountain terrain, the Tour de France is the most grueling sports event in the world. And in 2004, five-time champion Lance Armstrong set out to achieve what no other cyclist in the 100-year history of the race had ever done: win a sixth Tour de France.
We Begin Our Ascent by Joe Mungo Reed
Sol and Liz are a couple on the cusp. He’s a professional cyclist in the Tour de France, a workhorse but not yet a star. She’s a geneticist on the brink of a major discovery, either that or a loss of funding. They’ve just welcomed their first child into the world, and their bright future lies just before them—if only they can reach out and grab it. But as Liz’s research slows, as Sol starts doping, their dreams grow murkier and the risks graver. Over the whirlwind course of the Tour, they enter the orbit of an extraordinary cast of conmen and aspirants, who draw the young family ineluctably into the depths of an illegal drug smuggling operation. As Liz and Sol flounder to discern right from wrong, up from down, they are forced to decide: What is it we’re striving for? And what is it worth?”
-Archana, Adult Services & Acquisitions Librarian