Yellow Jersey Club – Edward Pickering

yellow-jersey-clubI was reading ‘The Yellow Jersey Club‘ during the Tour de France. Short biographies of those who have won the Tour de France in the past couple of decades. It started off in the post-Merckx era with Bernard Thevenet (1975 – 77).

I don’t think I even knew Bernard Thevenet had won the Tour de France. So I learnt something new for a start. The man who dethroned Merckx was not exactly another Merckx. He had his own idiosyncrasies and perhaps lacked the steely determination and need to win that a Merckx or Hinault had. During his career as a rider he was very popular with the French public, which is surprising given his current relative anonymity. Interesting to compare to say Bernard Hinault who only really won the hearts of the French when he started to be less than invincible, towards the end of his career.

The same could be said for Louis van Impe, who – depending on which source you trust the most – had to be cajoled away from his role as King of Mountains chaser to become an all round GC man. An almost reluctant leader and winner – he comes out as a well rounded guy.

I did enjoy the book because it was trying to understand the characters, flaws, and personalities of the winners. There is an element of cycling tactics and history, but mostly a look a the more mental aspects of cycling tour winners.

It’s largely sympathetic to the riders. At least as sympathetic as you can be given the inevitable flaws and various degree of drug use within this time period. Without glossing over the dark shadow of doping, – you do get to learn about all the serious misdemeanour’s of the winners – it still manages to remain relatively ‘light’ and readable. Not always the easiest of things to do given the subject matter.

I learnt quite a lot from book, and it definitely made a good complement to watching the Tour, and also watching Froome grilled by the press. It did make you wonder how the other Tour winners would have reacted if they were in the same boat as Froome in 2015. Well, I guess with Bradley Wiggins we do actually know. Who memorably said in 2012 press conference **** off you ****. Too blue for cycling uphill, but I’m sure you can fill in the missing blanks. I’m taking a guess that is how the ‘badger’ may have responded too.

Recent winners in book

  • Bernard Thevenet 1975,77
  • Luis van Impe – 76
  • Bernard Hinault, 78,79, 81,82,85
  • Joop Zootemelk – 80
  • Laurent Fignon
  • Greg Lemond – 86, 89, 90
  • Stephen Roche, 87
  • Pedro Delgado, ’88
  • Miguel Indurain 91-95
  • Bjarne Riis ’96
  • Jan Ullrich ’97
  • Marco Pantani -98
  • Lance Armstrong
  • Oscar Pereiro 06
  • Alberto Contador 2007,09
  • Carlos Sastre 2008
  • Andy Schleck 2010
  • Cadel Evans 2011
  • Bradley Wiggins 2012
  • Chris Froome 2013, 15
  • Vicenzo Nibali 2014


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