The First Tour De France

The First Tour De France

Sixty Cyclists and Nineteen Days of Daring on the Road to Paris

Book - 2017
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The first Tour de France was a far cry from the polished international sporting event we see on television today. Organized by the financially free falling L'Auto magazine, the desperate editors thought that organizing a grand cycling tour was the only thing that could save their publication. But in 1903, cyclists weren't enthusiastic about what was pitched to them as a heroic race through roads more suited to hooves than wheels, with bikes weighing up to forty-four pounds, on a single fixed gear, for three full weeks. Assembling enough riders for the race meant bribing unemployed laborers from the suburbs of Paris, including a butcher, a blacksmith, a chimney sweep, and a wrestler. Through these characters' backstories, Cossins paints a nuanced portrait of France in the early 1900's. The race itself is packed with mishaps and adventure--in part due to the fact that water was scarce at the time, so the men drank wine and beer throughout, often keeling over from their bicycles in a drunken stupor. There was no indication that a ramshackle cycling pack would draw crowds to throng France's rutted roads and cheer the first Tour heroes. But they did, and cycling would never be the same again.
Publisher: New York : Nation Books, 2017
ISBN: 9781568589848
1568589840
Characteristics: ix, 358 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm

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