Monday, September 7, 2009

Le Tour

The Tour de France is a great sporting event, but it has had its fair share of cheating, cruelty, tragic deaths and sheer bad luck. Matt Rendell has done a great job of recording this in Blazing Saddles. The Cruel and Unusual History of the Tour de France. The book basically follows every Tour from 1903 until 2007 and gives a brief summary of what happened. It particularly focuses on the things that set this race apart in terms of the unusual and cruel.
The early years of the race were like the wild west riders would travel on cars and trains to get an advantage, nails would be left across the road, mobs of supporters would block the road and beat up or stone competitors that were beating their favourite rider. One rider even organised a line of beer bottles to be set up on a wall on the side of the road on a long and hot stage, and when his competitors stopped to have a drink he rode on by. Now days drugs are the main form of cheating that goes on.

Overall a good little read that fans of the Tour will enjoy as it highlights some of the events that make it so unique.

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