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Rouleur Centenary Tour de France by Various Publisher: Rouleur Books • Hardback • 292 Pages • SBN: 978 1 4729 0080 7 • £40

“Not another book about the Tour de France”, I hear you say.

After all, there are so many

available already, and every year more arrive. Well, although this one is loosely based around le Tour, the style is ‘a bit different’, in the way that anyone familiar with Rouleur magazine would expect. One could describe it as a coffee table version of the magazine; one could better describe it as the seventh in the series of annuals that Rouleur have produced each year since the magazine started. The difference

is that this year they took advantage of the hundredth running of le Tour to apply that as an overall theme to the annual. Expect ‘arty’ pictures in both black and white and colour, which will sometimes be a bit grainy, and will certainly be from an unusual perspective. As you would expect from a coffee table book, there are lots of images; in fact words seem to be present on only about 1 out of every 8 pages. Incidentally, just as in the magazine don’t expect to fi nd any captions next to each picture: the titles of each picture are summarised at the very end of the book which requires a lot of fl icking between pages. Unnecessary and annoying in my view. The 21 chapters are based around the 21 stages of this year’s Tour, but don’t expect much reporting of the racing. Much has already been written about the actual race - and no doubt much more will be written - so Rouleur needed something different to make their Tour de France book stand out. Take the 20th stage, from Annecy to Annecy-Semnoz; the author writes about the experience of being at the top of the fi nal climb of le Tour, which is arguably provided the grand fi nale that the organisers wanted to orchestrate. There is barely any mention of the race, and no riders or teams are mentioned by name. That is the point: you already know what happened in the race. However, I doubt

City Cycling Europe by Rapha by Various Publisher: Thames & Hudson • Paperback • ISBN 978 0 500 29100 9 • £25

Surely an almost impossible task: write a credible review of eight guide books that cover nine cities across Europe. I can’t imagine that many people have suffi ciently detailed knowledge to give a valid critique of each book, but I can at least comment on those areas where I do have experience. The cities in question are Amsterdam, Antwerp & Ghent, Barcelona, Berlin, Copenhagen, London, Milan, and Paris. Whilst I have visited most of them, I have only cycled in London and Paris - but I know that my time there would have been much more enjoyable if had seen these books before taking to the streets for the fi rst time.

In typical Rapha style the books are well

presented; they are also compact enough to be truly pocket-sized, and no doubt the preference is for that pocket to be part of a stylish Rapha garment. Max Leonard and Andrew Edwards are credited with most of the writing and design, with credits to others for


providing local knowledge in each guide. Rather than use photographs, each book has illustrations from local artists, reproduced ‘in three-colour print with additional spot print’ apparently; the same style continues onto the informative maps, and the result is very pleasing to the eye.

Like any good guide book these will be of

great benefi t when planning a cycling trip, or for carrying with you during the trip; but large parts of these books are equally valid for those using other modes of transport. The books are only available as a box set of eight books, which does make the package rather expensive if you are only interested in one or two of the cities. Furthermore, the fate of all printed guide books is to start going out of date immediately.

Each book has a similar format, including a guide to each major area of the city, a recommended route for a varied day out on the bike, some information for the sportier

that any other ‘race report’ would do as good a job of conveying the emotion of being at the top of that hill at that time. It is all about the experience of being a spectator. Sometimes a chapter has no specifi c connection with any specifi c stage, such as stage 5 from Cagnes-sur-Mer to Marseille for example. Titled ‘The Good Book’, the chapter is actually about The Road Book, which is commonly known as the Bible. It is the manual that makes the race work, and every one involved with the race needs to have one and to do what it says. We also learn about another lesser known book, called ‘The Speakers Book’. It has only been produced for 14 years, and is fi rmly targeted at the many commentators who cover the race, providing them with a wealth of useful information about the areas that will be covered as the race progresses. Whilst the most detailed coverage of the actual race comes in the fi rst few chapters that cover the race’s fi rst ever visit to Corsica, not surprisingly as much is made of other newsworthy stories as the actual racing – such as the Orica Green Edge Team bus incident on stage 1, and a loose dog that nearly caused havoc in the bunch on stage 2. I do enjoy hearing about some of these other stories that surround the race, which regular race reports might barely mention.

types who want to train - and then some essential local information for cyclists, such as a guide to any City hire bike scheme in place. Using a Hire bike may well be the only opportunity that many people will have to cycle in some of these cities, and the guides will certainly help you get the most out of your time in the city.

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