101 Damnations: dispatches from the 101st Tour de France – Ned Boulting

I like Ned Boulting’s commentary during the Tour de France.  I also enjoyed reading his first book, How I won the Yellow Jumper so I was delighted when I received this as an unexpected Christmas present.

The book is mainly about the 101st Tour, as the title suggests, and covers the Grand Depart from Yorkshire.  I was a Tour Maker for the Grand Depart so I was interested in what Boulting had to say about it; I enjoyed it hugely and thought the people who turned up at the patch I was looking after were great and made all the waiting around an enjoyable occasion.

I enjoyed the way the book covers not just the cyclists but their support teams as well during the defining moments of the 2014 Tour.  It’s good to see people other than the superstars getting recognition for what the superstars achieve.  Ned Boulting has a great way of describing the people he comes across and he usually seems to find some interesting quirk to comment on.

The book also looks at some of the personalities from past Tours; the various stars caught up in doping scandals and promising riders who died in road traffic accidents.  It’s a gloomy thought though that people like Marcel Kittel aren’t recognised and rewarded in their home nations.  He also comments on cycling related industries.

The most dispiriting parts of the book though relate to the presence of doping in cycling and the fact that because of past misdemeanours people question the integrity of Chris Froome, who I would like to believe is a clean rider.  Unfortunately, it seems unlikely that cycling will ever outlive the drug scandals it has gone through in recent times.

This is an informative and witty book.  I was delighted to receive it as a Christmas present and really enjoyed reading it.

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