Review: Tour de France Champions: an AZ by Giles Belbin


Despite everything that has already been written about the Tour de France, Giles Belbin has managed to find a new way to present much of the same information and stories: Tour de France Champions: An AZ simply gives a brief overview of each runner who won the race. You can’t really criticize the result, but you can question the necessity.It’s a book that comes dangerously close to combining two of my least favorite traits in the publishing world: the first is any collection that simply collects existing material, and the second is any book that attempts to find yet another angle on touring France. How many more variations on either theme do we need?

Tour de France Champions aims “to give an overview of the life and careers of the sixty-two riders registered in the history books as winners of the Tour de France”. The problem comes from trying to condense it all into a few pages for each one, when many participants have had full books published about them – or several, as in the case of Eddy Merckx, and in particular Bradley Wiggins.

For Belbin, both the challenge and the opportunity is that there is so much relevant material out there, but it is prevalent in many books, magazines and newspapers. He clearly put a lot of effort into trawling in all media, as the 18 pages taken to list the many references show.

Belbin has already shown us that he can weave together a cohesive narrative from disparate sources (in Chasing the Rainbow); the difference here is that it has fewer new materials to work with. As a longtime and respected journalist, Belbin has good contacts, so he was able to include direct contributions from Alberto Contador, Cadel Evans, Stephen Roche and Felice Gimondi – but this new contribution is really a very small proportion of the together, although it’s worth it.

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Floyd Landis and Lance Armstrong are two runners who do not get registration for themselves, being grouped together in a segment on disqualified runners; the first was replaced by Oscar Pereiro, the second by no one. They are joined by Maurice Garin and Alberto Contador in this section of shame, but these two also qualify for pages of their own as they still retain other wins.

As the subtitle suggests, “an AZ” groups all runners by the first letter of their last name; the letters Q, X and Y are not yet populated, but it won’t be long before someone qualifies. The best chance of getting a win by a Q was probably with a Quintana – but only by one of the brothers. Maybe it could be a chance for our own Charlie Quarterman in the future?

There might be more luck for Y, thanks to a Yates – and it could probably be with either brother. An X-based victory appears to be a long way off, looking at the names of the current pros.

However, contenders should be warned that the best chance of winning the Tour appears to have a name starting with P: there were six, which is more than any other letter, and Tadej Pogacar has now reinforced this theory and made it into sept.

Unsurprisingly, this Tour Champions book came out at the same time the race itself was supposed to be taking place, which is always a popular time for cycling books. As we now know, it turned out to be a good two months before The Tour took place in late summer – shortly before the Spring Classics season. In this year upside down, it seems reasonable to see him again at the Giro d’Italia, which replaced Le Tour as the second three weeks of the season.

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If you specifically want a book of condensed biographies of any Tour de France winner, and nothing else, you’re unlikely to find better than that; in fact, you are unlikely to find anything else that currently fulfills this exact mandate.

However, if you want something that has wider coverage of the race, including its most successful runners, you could do a lot worse than Peter Cossins. The yellow jersey. If you just want brief biographies of all the top riders (although since 1936 only) then Legends of the Platoon might suit you better: naturally, it has considerable overlap with those of Tour de France Champions.


The last book to capitalize on the draw of the name of the Tour de France and the lasting appeal of the collections

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Brand and model: Tour de France Champions: An AZ by Giles Belbin

Tell us what the product is for and who it is for. What are the manufacturers saying about this? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

De The History Press:

The Tour de France is a race like no other, so it is perhaps not surprising that it attracts riders like no other. The winner of the second Tour came in fifth – but the four riders before him were disqualified for cheating. The 1932 champion credits his victory to saving him from capture by the Nazis, as the soldiers recognized him from the podium. One of the best British cyclists of the modern era only entered the European race by forcing an email. The Tour de France Champions is a journey to the top of cycling, watching those who have taken the roads and mountains of France to prevail over all others and win the biggest prize in cycling. Giles Belbin presents the stories of all those who have won the original and the greatest Grand Tour, the only race that still transcends the sport of cycling: the Tour de France.

Tell us more about the technical aspects of the product?

Title: Tour de France Champions

Auteur: Giles Belbin

Éditeur: The History Press

Date: 07/03/20

Format: Softcover

Pages: 272

ISBN: 9780750992008

Price: € 16.99

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Thorough research.

Tell us what you didn’t particularly like about the product

Images without interest.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider purchasing the product? Yes, if reduced.

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes

Use this box to explain your overall score

Few people could do a job as good as Belbin in writing such a book, and the result is nice to have but not revolutionary.

Age: 60 Size: Weight:

I usually drive: My best bike is:

I have been driving since: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would classify myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: hikes, club rides, sports, general fitness riding,


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