Page 45 Review by Jonathan
'After an unchallenged solo ride, Buysse was the first to cross the finish line. He'd been on his bike for seventeen hours. The others even longer...
"Are you Desgrange? You owe me money!"
"What for, my good man?"
"I gave four cyclists a lift. You should go take a look. It's a real mess back there!"
It was perhaps the toughest tour stage ever. Riders were finishing in the dark, frozen and numb. Many, washed off the road or taking refuge in wayside inns, didn't even reach the finish line. While Buysse, who went on to win the Tour that year, was tucked up in bed after a hot bath, Desgrange was out in the night rescuing stranded cyclists, one by one.'
Sportsmen... Some may feel they are a cosseted, pampered overpaid lot these days, who don't have to do a great deal for their vast piles of money that it would probably take the rest of us a lifetime to earn, and that may be true, in part. But if I had to pick one sport where the level of training and dedication required, plus the pure pain you have to endure every single time you compete, is frankly well into the realms of masochism, it would be road cycling. In my opinion they deserve every penny they get for the punishment they willingly put themselves through. And, right at the peak of that sport, there stands the ultimate test of body and mind that is the Tour De France, or simply Le Tour.
This work provides a brief look at those who have achieved the status of true legends (plus a few villains) for their performances in what is arguably the world's single toughest sporting challenge. As a cycling fan, I was absolutely fascinated by the chapters on the very early days of the Tour, before it became the well oiled, ultra-organised, corporate sponsored juggernaut it is now. Whilst today's riders are undoubtedly fitter and would have destroyed the competitors of yesteryear hands-down, I would love to see them try and ride for three weeks using the original bikes, and indeed some of the original routes. I think the fabled "broom wagon" transit van which today sweeps up those unable to keep up with the peloton would probably need to be considerably up-sized to a bus at least.
Very difficult to see this appealing to anyone other than cycling fans, but certainly an excellent gift for people who don't normally read graphic novels, but do like cycling. My dad loved it.