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A Race for Madmen: The History of the Tour de France
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A Race for Madmen: The History of the Tour de France

3.86  ·  Rating Details  ·  228 Ratings  ·  23 Reviews
Initially founded to demonstrate a new British invention—the bicycle—and as a venue to show off the French countryside, the Tour de France continues to exhibit the most extraordinary feats of human endurance from its competitors. Now cyclist and journalist Chris Sidwells brings the Tour to life by pulling back the curtain on the behind-the-scenes battles, tactics, and tech ...more
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published July 1st 2012 by Sports Publishing (first published May 27th 2010)
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Jan 28, 2015 Navarra rated it it was ok
A Race For Madmen as a history of the Tour de France suffers badly from inconvenient timing. It’s release date was 2010, two years before the bomb dropped on Lance Armstrong. It also suffers from a brutal naivete that, in all honesty, was probably a self-preservation technique considering litigation-happy Lance Armstrong and his oh-so-willing-lawyers (that are no doubt taking him to the cleaners as we speak). A further epilogue that covers events from 2010 to today might help make the book slig ...more
Paul Smith
May 10, 2012 Paul Smith rated it really liked it
Shelves: cycling
If we're going to be killjoys about this book, let's get it over with: it's a chronological list of winners, heroes and notable events connected with the frequently insane history of the Tour de France. However, even as something as nuts as le Tour needs narration to bring it to life, and Sidwells makes a good job of it.

All the usual suspects are here, from Coppi to Armstrong via Anquetil, Merckx, Bobet, Indurian, Hinault and co, and all are given suitable word count against the rolling backdrop
Jenny Hemming
Accessible overview of the history of the Tour and its major players. Odd to read something written pre-Armstrong revelations - ends just before 2010 tour - & I felt it rather glossed over the doping generally. Enjoyable though.
Anthony Stell
Aug 06, 2013 Anthony Stell rated it liked it
Enjoyed it - detail in the early days is great and I like the nostalgia that reading about Indurain and the winners in the 90's brought back too. However, this book has been sitting on my shelf for about a year and a half and in that time all the Lance Armstrong stuff has come and gone. I'm sure it would be a completely different book now because of that (he sits on the fence about whether he thinks LA cheated or not, which was probably about as far as you could go back then...) The story about ...more
Aug 20, 2012 Stuart rated it really liked it
A history of the Tour de France. This is pretty good, does a good job of placing the legends of cycling like Coppi, Bartoli, Merckx etc in their place. I thought it weakened a little on the newer stuff, but it was released a couple of years ago so it obviously missing some perspective on the Lance years, given whats going on now. A good intro to the history of the race, and cycling to a certain extent, very few of the greats haven't made the tour their domain (some Italians go giro first and las ...more
Jul 24, 2013 Andrew rated it really liked it
A great insight, even for non-cyclists

Sidwells captures the thrills and challenges of the race in terrific detail, highlighting some of the characters and dramatic incidents that have made the Tour such a spectacle.

While it will be a goldmine of facts for cycling fans, even those who have never ridden a bike in their lives will be caught up in the tension as legendary riders risk their lives to beat their rivals by the slimmest margins.
Dec 25, 2014 J. rated it liked it
This book did a great job of telling the story of the Tour De France from the beginning all the way to 2012. You really got to understand more about how the race works and the type of men who raced in it. It was also interesting to read about how doping has been a part of the Tour since its start, as well as the modern history of doping, since this was written just prior to Lance Armstrong's confession.
Oct 03, 2014 Sara rated it liked it
I love cycling and I thought this book was a great history of the TDF. It wasn't the best writing ever, but it wasn't terrible. The author had a lot of great insight and lots of access to the right people. There were some areas where it got a bit bogged down describing the races, where I tuned out slightly. But for the most part, it was interesting information. And now I'm ready for this year's race!
Patrick Carroll
Feb 02, 2013 Patrick Carroll rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this as a complete novice to cycle racing, it really helped me to understand where the culture of the Tour de France came from and how it was a race with no real rules. You could argue that the cultural history of the race has led to the disastrous doping scandals of the '80s,'90s and '00s. It makes me very suspicious that the UCI has known and been complicit all along.
Simon Brighty
Dec 26, 2014 Simon Brighty rated it it was amazing
Great will written book.
Mar 06, 2012 Paul rated it liked it
I enjoyed reading this book but at times I felt I was just reading a list of facts rather than a story. At other times I really enjoyed the humour and honesty of the writing. It was good to fill in the many gaps in my knowledge of cycling history and not just the Tour. A great primer for a planned trip to watch the tour in 2013.
Sidwells' history of the TdF is told in chunks that take in either incredible events on the Tour (doping scandals, racing during WW2) or in biographical pieces on the big winners. It is a reasonable introduction to the race, but where it does fall down is that it has no reference section with lists of the various category winners.
Oct 03, 2010 Vicky rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The is the first book I've read about the tour and may be the last. I'm not really a follower of the tour but was simply curious. I most enjoyed the earlier chapters about the early history of the tour and the heroics of the early cyclists. Interesting, but I'm not reckoningthat this is the best book ever written about the tour.
David Hickey
All in all an alright read. Interesting material and life stories, but not really that well written and lacking engagement with the reader. A decent primer on Le Tour's history, but I'm sure there are other more inspiring histories out there.
Ben Gilman
Feb 14, 2012 Ben Gilman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, sport
Read to coincide with my annual interest in the Tour this book is a perfect way to catch up on 100 years of the race. Tells some of the intriguing stories from the earlier races brilliantly. Skims the modern years a little but still a great primer.
Feb 12, 2014 Eric rated it really liked it
Shelves: sports
Pretty well written book about the history of the Tour de France, and pretty current as well. Not a lot of new information about a subject as well documented at the TDF, but some good insight and a few good interviews. I enjoyed it.
Maggie Jaicomo
Oct 14, 2014 Maggie Jaicomo rated it it was ok
I enjoyed the stories of the characters themselves, but the book as a whole is dry. I understand that it is a history but it's just kind of like "this guy won, then this guy won" and "the race is really hard"

Rod Nicolson
Mar 18, 2013 Rod Nicolson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Fabulous introduction to the Tour de France and the nutters/heroes who achieve mind-boggling feats on, by today's standards, two-wheeled tractors with no brakes.
Dec 04, 2012 Deborah rated it really liked it
A good, comprehensive and chronological introduction to the TDF. So, so many proofing errors though. Clearly a bit of a rush job from Collins!
Apr 12, 2011 Scott rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fun history of the Tour de France. Casually written and accessible to everyone, even those who have no previous knowledge of cycling.
Andrew Sparrow
Aug 23, 2012 Andrew Sparrow rated it liked it
Great introduction for a relative novice. Enjoyed reading this in Italy - plenty of cyclists here, and lots of love for Fausto Coppi.

Chris S
Jul 31, 2011 Chris S rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sport, cycle
A 'chatty' canter through the history of the Tour. Good place to start.
Nov 23, 2011 ChristinaJL rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to ChristinaJL by: David Harmon
Shelves: cycling
Easy to read, interesting history of the Tour de France.
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