Speed Read Tour de France: The History, Strategies, and Intrigue Behind the World’s Greatest Bicycle Race


John Wilcockson  


This beautifully designed and illustrated essential guide to the Tour de France from Motorbooks’ Speed Read series will make you an instant expert on its history, its winners and rivalries, the tactics necessary to win it, and the technology of its bicycles.

Le Tour has sometimes been called “chess on wheels” because of the complicated strategies used by the race’s 22 teams and 176 riders. This book—written by award-winning cycling journalist John Wilcockson, who has covered the Tour 45 times—will help you understand those tactics, along with informing you about the race’s century-plus history, its famed winners and rivalries, and the technology that has gone into creating the modern racing bicycle and determining how today’s athletes train.

Among the questions answered are:

  • Who owns the Tour?
  • How are the course’s 21 stages selected?
  • What are the most famous mountain climbs?
  • How is the overall winner determined?
  • What is a peloton, a soigneur, or an echelon?
  • How big are the prizes?
  • What are time bonuses?
  • Who was the first American to compete in the Tour, and who was the first one to win it?
  • How fast do the racers go down mountain descents?
  • What speeds can the riders reach in sprint finishes?
  • Why are the teams known by the names of their sponsors and not their countries?
  • What do the riders eat, and where do they sleep every night?
  • What are all those motorcycles doing among the cyclists?
  • How do the organizers deal with doping scandals?
  • And is it true that, one year, the top four finishers were all disqualified?
You will find the answers to all these questions, and many more, in this informative, beautifully illustrated, fun-to-read book: Speed Read Tour de France.