Sports Our favorite books to read during the Tour de France

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With all the Tour de France's history come many excellent books to sink into. Here are some of our favorites.

"The Rider" by Tim Krabbé. play

"The Rider" by Tim Krabbé.

(Bloomsbury Publishing)

The Tour de France has been around for over a century, with the first edition taking place in July 1903. The race has been run nearly every year since, pausing only for the two world wars.

The Tour was created by an enterprising French journalist who wanted to sell more newspapers. Henri Desgrange surely had no idea his little bicycle race would evolve into the world's largest annual sporting event, today watched by millions along the roadside and hundreds of millions more on TV.

With all the history come many excellent books to sink into. Here are our favorites — some new, some old, all worth reading.

"The First Tour de France" by Peter Cossins

"The First Tour de France" by Peter Cossins play

"The First Tour de France" by Peter Cossins

(Nation Books)

An exquisite history of the first Tour de France.

"Having portrayed the race's itinerary 'from Paris to the blue waters of the Mediterranean, from Marseille to Bordeaux via pink-tinted and dreaming towns sleeping in the sun ... ' Desgrange revealed his two greatest hopes for the race: no less than the revitalization of French manhood and vitality, and the introduction of high-level sport to French provinces hitherto almost totally ignored by it."

Read more at Nation Books and buy it on Amazon.



"Road to Valor" by Aili and Andres McConnon

"Road to Valor" by Aili and Andres McConnon play

"Road to Valor" by Aili and Andres McConnon

(Amazon)

Elie Wiesel praised this detailed history for offering "a moving example of moral courage."

"At the age of 24, he stuns the world by winning the Tour de France and becomes an international sports icon. But Mussolini’s Fascists try to hijack his victory for propaganda purposes, derailing Bartali’s career, and as the Nazis occupy Italy, Bartali undertakes secret and dangerous activities to help those being targeted.

"He shelters a family of Jews in an apartment he financed with his cycling winnings and is able to smuggle counterfeit identity documents hidden in his bicycle past Fascist and Nazi checkpoints because the soldiers recognize him as a national hero in training."

Read more at roadtovalorbook and buy it Amazon.



"A Dog in a Hat" by Joe Parkin

"A Dog in a Hat" by Joe Parkin play

"A Dog in a Hat" by Joe Parkin

(VeloPress)

American Joe Parkin pursued a dream to race in Europe. This is his "brutally frank memoir."

"I saw my first pro kermis race during my first week in Belgium, and it felt like trying to escape a hall of mirrors but not being able to read the exit signs. Everything was larger than life and more grotesque than I had imagined. But kermis racing was not all about the drugs. If the grand tours are like classical music, kermis racing is punk rock, Belgian-style."

Read more at VeloPress and buy it on Amazon.



"Reckless: The Life and Times of Luis Ocaña" by Alasdair Fotheringham

"Reckless: The Life and Times of Luis Ocaña" by Alasdair Fotheringham play

"Reckless: The Life and Times of Luis Ocaña" by Alasdair Fotheringham

(Bloomsbury Publishing)

An intriguing book about a tragic figure. Eddy Merckx is the greatest cyclist of all time, and Merckx called Luis Ocaña his "most dangerous rival."

"He came across as a hero out of a Scott Fitzgerald novel, with that self-destructive, slightly crazy edge to him."

Read more at Bloomsbury and buy it on Amazon.



"Ventoux" by Jeremy Whittle

"Ventoux" by Jeremy Whittle play

"Ventoux" by Jeremy Whittle

(Simon & Schuster)

"Epic" is a word that diehard cyclists love to hate, but if one climb truly deserves the adjective, it's Mont Ventoux. This book is a deep dive into the epicest! of all the Tour climbs.

"They're all scared. Everybody's afraid. It gets so quiet you can hear a fly buzzing through the peloton." —Eddy Merckx

Read more at Simon & Shuster and buy it on Amazon.



"Rough Ride" by Paul Kimmage

"Rough Ride" by Paul Kimmage play

"Rough Ride" by Paul Kimmage

(Amazon)

A game-changing exposé, this is one Irish cyclist turned journalist's story about his experiences with widespread doping in pro cycling and the Tour de France.

"The law of silence: it exists not only in the Mafia but also in the peloton. Those who break the law, who talk to the press about the dope problems in the sport are despised. They are branded as having 'craché dans la soupe', they have 'spat in the soup'.

"In writing this book I have broken the law of silence. I have spat in the soup and a lot of people with resent me for it."

Read more at Penguin and buy it on Amazon.



"The Shattered Peloton" by Graham Healy

"The Shattered Peloton" by Graham Healy play

"The Shattered Peloton" by Graham Healy

(Amazon)

World War I would see more than 16 million troops and civilians die.

Many of the riders in the 1914 Tour did not return from the war, and three previous winners of the race were among those killed in action.

"Both the archduke and Sophie were dead within half an hour. Another member of the traveling party, Count Harrach, said that the archduke's last words were, "Sophie, Sophie! Don't die! Live for our children!"

"As the couple lay dying, the Tour de France continued toward Le Havre."

Read more at Breakaway Books and buy it on Amazon.



"The Secret Race" by Tyler Hamilton and Daniel Coyle

"The Secret Race" by Tyler Hamilton and Daniel Coyle play

"The Secret Race" by Tyler Hamilton and Daniel Coyle

(Amazon)

If you read only one book about Lance Armstrong and his corrupting power, read this unputdownable insider account of the sport's darkest figure in his brightest hour.

"One day I'm a normal person with a normal life," he said. "The next I'm standing on a street corner in Madrid with a secret phone and a hole in my arm and I'm bleeding all over, hoping I don't get arrested. It was completely crazy. But it seemed like the only way at the time."

Read more at Random House and buy it on Amazon.



"Why We Ride" by Patrick Brady

"Why We Ride" by Patrick Brady play

"Why We Ride" by Patrick Brady

(Amazon)

A collection of inspiring philosophical ruminations about the pedaling life.

"The bicycle is a thing of beauty, a potent antidote to the world's ills, an eternal E-ticket ride."

Read more at Red Kite Prayer and buy it on Amazon.



"The Art of the Jersey" by Andy Storey

"The Art of the Jersey" by Andy Storey play

"The Art of the Jersey" by Andy Storey

(Octopus Books)

Channel your inner cycling-design geek with this wonderful journey through 200 or so of the most iconic racing jerseys ever to grace the peloton.

Insightful commentary complements each of the colorful pictures.

Read more at Octopus Books and buy it on Amazon.



"Velopedia" by Robert Dineen

"Velopedia" by Robert Dineen play

"Velopedia" by Robert Dineen

(Quarto)

Everything you ever wanted to know about the world of road cycling in 101 fun and contemporary infographics.

Warning: This beautifully illustrated, colorful guide is tough to put down.

Read more at Quarto and buy it on Amazon.



"The Ultimate Bicycle Owner's Manual" by Eben Weiss

"The Ultimate Bicycle Owner's Manual" by Eben Weiss play

"The Ultimate Bicycle Owner's Manual" by Eben Weiss

(Black Dog and Leventhal)

Bike Snob NYC is probably the best read bike blogger on earth. In this humorous guide to bikes and bicycling, he helps readers get the most out of cycling so they can get out and ride.

Read more at Black Dog and Leventhal and buy it on Amazon.



"Fuelling the Cycling Revolution" by Nigel Mitchell

"Fuelling the Cycling Revolution" by Nigel Mitchell play

"Fuelling the Cycling Revolution" by Nigel Mitchell

(Bloomsbury Publishing)

Looking for a collection of amazing recipes that will fuel your amazing cycling adventures? Get a copy of this authoritative guide from one of the sport's top nutritionists.

The must-read practical guide to what to eat — on and off the bike — for any cyclist looking for a training and performance advantage.

Read more at Bloomsbury Publishing and buy it on Amazon.



"The Cycling Cartoonist" by Dave Walker

"The Cycling Cartoonist" by Dave Walker play

"The Cycling Cartoonist" by Dave Walker

(Bloomsbury Publishing)

Should you store your bike in the living room? What is a good place to hide your new wheels from your partner? How do you become a MAMIL?

This smart, humorous take on all things cycling is a sheer delight.

Read more at Bloomsbury Publishing and buy it on Amazon.



"Ask a Pro" by Phil Gaimon

"Ask a Pro" by Phil Gaimon play

"Ask a Pro" by Phil Gaimon

(VeloPress)

Ever asked yourself, How should I explain my shaved legs to girls? This is the book for you.

A hilarious and often LOL book-length Q&A with a former pro who keeps it real.

Read more at VeloPress and buy it on Amazon.



"The Cyclist Who Went Out in the Cold" by Tim Moore

"The Cyclist Who Went Out in the Cold" by Tim Moore play

"The Cyclist Who Went Out in the Cold" by Tim Moore

(Amazon)

Ever dream of riding a tiny-wheeled, two-geared East German shopping bike 6,000 miles across the old Iron Curtain? Me neither. But Tim Moore did, and he did it.

A delight of a book that is hilariously written. A genuine page-turner.

Read more at Pegasus Books and buy it on Amazon.



"The Rider" by Tim Krabbé

"The Rider" by Tim Krabbé play

"The Rider" by Tim Krabbé

(Bloomsbury Publishing)

The best book ever written about bike racing, period.

"Every once in a while someone along the road lets us know how far behind we are. A man shouts: 'Faster!' He probably thinks bicycle racing is about going fast."

Read more at Bloomsbury Publishing and buy it on Amazon.



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