Tuesday, April 19, 2011

What a Ride!

Australian journalist Rupert Guinness has been covering the Tour for 20 years and this book gives in-depth coverage of Australian riders in the race from 1987 to 2008.

Australia has been a major force in track cycling for the last decade and longer due to their investment in training at the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS), which continues to produce dividends. The transition to road racing in Europe has been more complex, but since Phil Anderson in the early 1980s (Anderson had a huge tussle with Bernard Hinault at the 1981 Tour) pushed the door open further, Australians have increasingly made their mark on the race.

Guinness covers the Tour year-by-year, concentrating on the Australian participants and their trials and tribulations. Some years are leaner than others, so Guinness also discusses his impressions of the LeMond, Indurain, and Armstrong eras. As one can imagine, there's lots of drama and controversy. Most of the time, Australians are usually right in the middle of it - and there's plenty of anecdotes that even the closest cycling follower probably hasn't heard before.

The Australians typically manage to conform to a national stereotype - adaptable (Neil Stephens living in the Basque country), outspoken (Robbie McEwen's feud with Lance Armstrong), and resilient (Stuart O'Grady finishing with a broken vertebrae). And there are plenty of wins in there, too: yellow jerseys, green jerseys, and stages. The publishers skipped the inclusion of an index, though, which is unfortunate. Nonetheless, it's a great opportunity to look at the Tour through an Australian lens.



  1. Hi Guy, talking about Rupert Guinness... I know it's beer, book and bikes but have you seen Detour de France? It's hilariously funny if you ever consider reviewing a film...

  2. Groover - I've heard good things about that movie and will have to look out for it. Having seen Aussie fans singing 'Down Under' on the Yell For Cadel movie, I'm a bit nervous, though...