Friday, 5 December 2008

A Century Of Cycling, William Fotheringham (2003)

A coffee-table-sized book containing a good history of the major races in professional road cycling.

Photo-rich tomes of this size frequently deliver little in elucidation. Indeed, this has the appearance of precisely that kind of volume that one is presented with as a gift by a non-cycling family member who has ‘spotted it in a bookshop’.

Happily, however, Fotheringham is a high-quality journalist (he writes for The Guardian) who has covered the world of cycle racing for more than a decade. As a result there is something in this book for all but the most obsessive cycle racing enthusiast. The book is divided into nine chapters with one each on the major tours, and the rest on the classic one-day races, such as Paris-Roubaix and Liege-Bastogne-Liege.

Each chapter covers the history of the race, the most notable contests and is illustrated with a map of a recent course. Throughout the text there are single page profiles of 37 of the greatest cyclists, from Coppi to Lance Armstrong. The book ends with a useful list of all the winners of all the races covered in the book.

My edition is now five years out of date, and may well have come from some kind of discounter. Nonetheless, it is a great companion to the cycling year – one to be got out on the morning of each race to contextualise and deepen your viewing pleasure.

PS Dec 08

No comments: