Le Tour de France @ Your Library
The month of July is here! We are officially in the thick of summer. The masses are gearing up for trips down the shore, barbecues in the backyard, fresh vegetables and fruits from local farm stands, and … the Tour de France. Well, maybe not everyone automatically associates July with the Tour de France as I do. I became a fan of the bicycle race when, one Sunday back in the early 1980's, my mother, a high school French teacher, casually flipped the TV channel to catch the highlights from the past week of “The Tour.” My siblings and I became enthralled with the team strategies, the route’s different stages, and riders’ backstories.
The race, first held in 1903 to promote the struggling newspaper, L'Auto, has changed greatly from its original six-stage race. The route for 2016’s event holds true to its nickname, Le Grand Boucle (The Big Loop). The Tour’s website maps out the 21 stages, totaling 3,519 kilometers (approximately 2,187 miles). Through this year’s combination of individual time trials, flat stages, and mountain stages, nearly 200 riders compete for the maillot jaune (yellow jersey), which is awarded to the rider with the fastest combined time. Whether it is climbing switchbacks in the Alps, navigating a mountain’s hairpin turns during descent, riding elbow-to-elbow among the peloton, or managing the stress of an individual time trial, the Tour de France is the most prestigious cycling race for a cyclist to finish—let alone win.
Mercer County Library’s collection provides a variety of titles, taking you through the Tour de France's evolution, capturing the unique stories of individual riders, showcasing the mesmerizing scenery along the treacherous routes, and sharing insight from behind the scenes. Below is a sampling of titles to get you started.
Lanterne Rouge: The Last Man in the Tour de France by Max Leonard
Froome, Wiggins, Mercks—we know the winners of the Tour de France, but Lanterne Rouge tells the forgotten, often inspirational and occasionally absurd stories of the last-placed rider. We learn of stage winners and former yellow jerseys who tasted life at the other end of the bunch; the breakaway leader who stopped for a bottle of wine and then took a wrong turn; the doper whose drug cocktail accidentally slowed him down and the rider who was recognized as the most combative despite finishing at the back. Max Leonard flips the Tour de France on its head and examines what these stories tell us about ourselves and the 99% who don't win the trophy, forcing us to re-examine the meaning of success, failure and the very nature of sport.
Road to Valor: A True Story of WWII Italy, the Nazis, and the Cyclist Who Inspired a Nation by Aili McConnon and Andres McConnon
Road to Valor is the inspiring, against-the-odds story of Gino Bartali, the cyclist who made the greatest comeback in Tour de France history and secretly aided the Italian resistance during World War II.
Slaying the Badger: Greg Lemond, Bernard Hinault, and the Greatest Tour de France by Richard Moore
Bernard Hinault is Le Blaireau, the Badger. Tough as old boots, he is the warrior of the French peloton, as revered as he is feared for his ferocious attacks. He has won five Tours de France, marking his name into the history books as a member of cycling's most exclusive club. Yet as the 1986 Tour de France ascended into the mountains, a boyish and friendly young American named Greg LeMond threatened the Badger--and France's entire cycling heritage. Known as "L'Americain", LeMond rode strongly, unafraid. The stakes were high. Winning for Hinault meant capping his long cycling career by becoming the first man to win the Tour six times. For LeMond, it would bring America its first Tour de France victory. Why did their rivalry shock the world? LeMond and Hinault were on the same team. Cyclists love this famous story but they have never heard it told as in Slaying the Badger. Award-winning author Richard Moore has gathered the absolute best sources, interviewing LeMond and Hinault in their own homes, American Andy Hampsten, their teammates, and team directors to tell the story. He tells the race through the interviews so that these narrative voices lend a fresh and fast-paced tone to cycling's favorite rivalry.
The Tour de France: A Cultural History by Christopher S. Thompson
In this highly original history of the world's most famous bicycle race, Christopher S. Thompson, mining previously neglected sources and writing with infectious enthusiasm for his subject, tells the compelling story of the Tour de France from its creation in 1903 to the present. Weaving the words of racers, politicians, Tour organizers, and a host of other commentators together with a wide-ranging analysis of the culture surrounding the event—including posters, songs, novels, films, and media coverage—Thompson links the history of the Tour to key moments and themes in French history. He argues persuasively that this hugely popular sporting event has been instrumental in French attempts to grapple with the great challenges they have confronted during their tumultuous twentieth century—from World Wars, political divisions, and class conflict to economic modernization, women's emancipation, and threats to public health. Examining the enduring popularity of Tour racers, Thompson explores how their public images have changed over the past century. He concludes with a discussion of the longstanding practice of doping and considers the complex case of the seven-time champion Lance Armstrong.
Tour de France/Tour de Force: A Visual History of the World’s Greatest Bicycle Race by James Startt
For three weeks each July, millions of fans from around the world descend upon the French countryside to cheer on the "forcats de la route," or slaves of the road—the riders competing in the Tour de France. For nearly a century, the event has captivated people, who gather to witness the strength of the human spirit in its struggle to endure and overcome incredible obstacles to rise to the ranks of heroism. Covering over 2000 miles in 21 days, the cyclists make a grand circuit of the country, crossing over both the Alps and the Pyrenees mountains before racing to the finish line along the Champs-Elysees in Paris. Now [over] one hundred years old, the legendary bicycle race has a rich and colorful past. Tour de France/Tour de Force offers a one-of-a-kind look back at the Tour's history and its heroes. Arranged chronologically and illustrated with hundreds of wonderfully evocative photographs dating back to the Tour's beginning in 1903, it documents the great victories and the harrowing disasters, the glory and the agony of this amazing competition. From the astounding stories of early cyclists who looped around France on rudimentary two-wheelers to contemporary chapters emphasizing the tactics and winning moves employed in recent races, the drama of the Tour comes to life in these pages. Featuring race results from 1903 all the way through to 1999, plus an introduction by three-time Tour winner Greg LeMond, and special sections on the evolution of the Tour de France bike and the controversial issue of performance-enhancing drugs,Tour de France/Tour de Force is the consummate guide to this truly extraordinary event in the world of sport.
-Anna Van S.