Review of Lanterne Rouge by Max Leonard
Lanterne Rouge is the term for the last man in the general classemente of the Tour de France. This is split into 12 chapters each showcasing a different last man starting apropriately with trying to make sense of the first one, a difficult task made harder that the early years records had been destroyed by fire.
I also think as the number of finishers has increased steadily in the last number of years, the reknown of the position has diminished somewhat. Riders are now better prepared, speeds have miraculously slowed in recent years much like the miraculous increases in the early 90s. Of course that is not to ignore that this isn't a clean cut story of those struggling against the dopers, dopers are included like Phillippe Gaumont.
In Ireland's national race, The Rás a term for a finisher, particularly one of the county riders is Man of the Rás for the suffering that they go through to get to the line. For me, in many ways this book represents the same, atleast in the earlier years of it. You have riders like Lambot featured (1919 where he came 10th overall but also last, battling through the destruction of france and shortage of tyres. For the way Leonard describes it, Lambot's ride was epic to make it through), Britain's Hoar and the Algerian rider Abdel Kader Zaaf (though both Hoar and Zaaf I had known more about before reading). liked the pieces on the men I didn't known before. Thast number of chapters focused on recent riders (i.e. ones during my lifetime) like Durand, Vansevenent, Jimmy Casper , Flores Borthersand Gaumont
Being about the last man in the tour de france, it bought a smile to my face in the symmetry that this was the last book i read in 2015 when I realised, it brought a smile to my face. I enjoyed the read, Leonard's style is endearing. It is engaging
Put Me Back On My Bike, In Search of Tom Simpson is a biography of Tom Simpson the British cyclist who died on Mont Ventoux during the 1967 Tour de France.
Tom Simpson, 1937 - 1967, was an Olympic medalist, world champion and the first Briton to wear the yellow jersey. And he is the stuff of legends.
William Fotheringham writes for The Guardian and Observer on cycling and rugby. He wasnted to try to find out the truth about the man, about his career, about his death and the role of drugs in that death. And I think he was successul. Tom Simpson was a popular, but driven cyclist who knew he had to perform well in order to keep earning a living at a time when cycling only paid well for the top names and only if they rode a lot. In discussion with those that knew him and by additional research Fotheringham paints a picture that is believable and interesting. And he explains why amphetimine use contributed to Simpson's death.
The books was published in 2002, after the Festina affair but before the Armstrong revelations and so has an interesting perspective on doping.