The Giro d'Italia has, since its beginning, played host to great drama, and one of these is the story of Fausto Coppi, a heroic and tragic figure of bike racing's Golden Age. On January 2 every year there is a big event in Castellania, a tiny village in Italy’s Piedmont region. Cycling fans from all over come to pay homage.
One of the great milestones of cycling has been the Hour Record, first set officially in 1893 by Henri Desgrange. And over the years there were many who took up the challenge. Sir Bradley Wiggins joined this select club seven years ago and his book, “My Hour,” is perhaps the first detailed account to describe what it takes to set the record, a ride so hard that Eddy Merckx felt it shortened his career.
Ah, Bella Italia! For many of us it is the Promised Land of Cycling, with its professional cyclists whose names could be those of opera singers. An interesting book from Australia relates the story of cycling in Italy, interwoven with an historical narrative of the country. Leslie Reissner reviews “Great Rivalries - Cycling and the Story of Italy” by Kevin Andrews.
There is a very special jersey that, once you win it at a one day event, it is yours for a year wherever you race. This jersey, is of course, the glorious rainbow-striped confection first donned by Alfredo Binda in 1927. Its fascinating history is the subject of “Chasing the Rainbow: The Story of Road Cycling's World Championships” by Giles Belbin.
The first printed books were meant to emulate hand-written manuscripts and since the days of Gutenberg we continue to admire fine publications. The Rizzoli company is noted for its quality works and has not disappointed with “Japanese Steel”, a celebration of “bike boom” two-wheelers that features superb presentation along with exquisite photos of bicycles you probably have never thought much about.
Some say “to travel is better than to arrive” but planning the trip can be more fun than anything else. Mapping le Tour by Ellis Bacon covers the journey taken from the first Tour to the 2014 Tour when the French race hit the roads of Yorkshire. Foreign starts are not unusual for the truly international Tour as we saw its huge popularity in Denmark this year. As the 2022 Tour moves into its second full week, Leslie Reissner takes a trip down Memory Lane and journeys the Tour de France routes of…
In the late 1990s, Frank Vandenbrouke, known to his fans as “God” or “VDB,” set the professional cycling world on fire with his exciting performances and assertive style but in only a few short years his rocketing star burned out, and the end came in a squalid hotel room in Africa after a decade of spiralling downhill.
Don't be misled by the title of this excellent book. “Pantana Was A God” is not a panegyric, a worshipful recounting of the life of the last pro cyclist to win the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France in the same year. It is two books in one - a masterful look at when Pantani triumphed, and brief remembrances by those who knew him.