Book Reviews

How I Won the Yellow Jumper: Dispatches from the Tour de France (Yellow Jersey Cycling Classics) by Ned Boulting

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List Price: £12.99

 

Paperback: 336 Pages.

Published: 02 June 2011 by Yellow Jersey

ISBN: 022408335X

EAN: 9780224083355

'Paris, 4 July 2003: My first Tour de France. I had never seen a bike race. I had only vaguely heard of Lance Armstrong. I had no idea what I was doing there. Yet, that day I was broadcasting live on television. I fumbled my way through a few platitudes, before summing up with the words, "...Dave Millar just missing out on the Yellow Jumper." Yes, the Yellow Jumper.'

Follow Ned Boulting's (occasionally excruciating) experiences covering the world's most famous two-wheeled race. His story offers an insider's view of life behind the scenes of the Tour, as well as detailing the complexities and absurdities of reporting on the race and confronting the most celebrated riders - Cavendish, Wiggins, Armstrong et al - seconds after they cross the line.

Eight Tours on from Ned's humbling debut, he has grown to respect, mock, adore and crave the race in equal measure. What's more, he has even started to understand it.

Reviews

4.0 Stars4.0 Stars4.0 Stars4.0 Stars  by Anne

One for the fans - but if you are a fan you'll enjoy it a lot

Ned Boulting's book about his coverage of the Tour de France was written before this year's astonishing event and the success of (Sir ?) Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome. It is a book for those of us who have followed this unique sporting event annually through many years despite a stunning lack of British success. The book, however, isn't just about the Tour but actually concerns the television coverage started by Channel 4 and continuing now on ITV 4. It is not just for fans of the race, therefore, but also for fans of the associated programming.

As someone who has spent three weeks every year for approaching twenty years following the race and lapping up the television programmes associated with it this book was very much for me. I enjoyed very much the insight which the author gave to the tricky business of televising the event and reporting on its stars. I hadn't quite realised how much goes into getting the interviews and soundbites which are scattered throughout the coverage and I enjoyed the tales of when it didn't quite go to plan or where the cyclists didn't cooperate (most of the time it appears). I was glad to have my impressions of the main presenters and commentators reinforced and truly enjoyed stories of the practical difficulties of covering a three week race which moves its location every day.

Of particular interest is the glimpse which the author gives of the men inside the Lycra (not literally). Ned Boulting has met and talked to stars such as Lance Armstrong and Mark Cavendish (whose successful green jersey winning season in 2011 gets its own chapter). His views are not judgemental and he really understands the pressures on top cyclists but you do get a feeling for the characters of these sports superstars (mostly prickly).

Well written, in an anecdotal style, this book is enjoyable and amusing to read, especially if you remember many of the incidents described and the television coverage of them (I particularly remember Gary Imlach's scathing indictment of Lance Armstrong over the Simeoni episode which is recounted here). If the Tour is new to you then this is not a book which will assist you to understand more about it - this one is for the diehard enthusiast.

 
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