There are a lot of books popping up for this 100th Tour de France. Mapping le Tour by Ellis Bacon is a Tour de France history that's worth buying.
The accompanying press sheet for Mapping Le Tour by Ellis Bacon says: 'This is the first time a publication has shown the route for every edition of the race.' I'm not surprised as it's a major logistical undertaking.
In his introduction Mark Cavendish mentions the bible handed out to each rider, the log book of each stage with the route, climbs, sprint points and hazards marked out. It even shows difficult corners on the run-ins on flatter stages. As Cavendish remarks it's essential reading for him to know when to pick his battles and when he's going to be chased by the broom wagon.
Mapping Le Tour summarises each Tour de france in one double-page spread, around a map of that year's route. Ellis Bacon manages to encapsulate each tour into six or seven paragraphs, with the the main protagonists, stage and key moments intact and also to retain space for a little dry wit.
It's not an easy task to concentrate three weeks down to a single page but Bacon crystallises the facts and spirit of each year pretty well. If you're left wanting more details on certain Tours there are no shortage of books out there to satisfy your cravings.
Initially the route maps themselves are a bit like looking at a road map book with a bad case of deja vu. It's not just the same map on every early page, if you thumb it like a flick book most of the 1920's and 1930's seem to use virtually the same route the Alps. To be fair, back in those times, this was probably the only route through the Alps.
The maps of France sharpen as the book progresses. You run from almost medieval, black-and-white, 'Here Be Monsters' cartography through curiously over-dense spy maps of the 1940s, where the cartographers have tried to cram in as many place names as the ink will allow, to the prosaic stripped-back terrain and major city maps we know today.
The photographs have been given equally careful consideration. 1966 and 1967 are split by a incongruous double-page close-up shot of a helicopter on white scree. But your eyes are drawn to the man on the stretcher already loaded into the cockpit, being given mouth-to-mouth, his pristine white-gloved hands curled as if at rest.
A little more than 100 pages later there's a wonderful side shot of just two riders: Wiggins leading out Cavendish on the Champs Elysee with the barriers and crowd behind, and one Brit, clutching the edge of his union jack as if he can't quite believe how far British cycling has come in just five years let alone 46.
Most sporting events when viewed as a block can seem a bit samey but for all the repetitiveness of the layout and the subject under discussion Mapping Le Tour does grab your attention all the way through.
Well, apart from the Indurain years. I still find it uncomfortable to hear Wiggins and Evans waxing lyrical about Indurain as the five tours Big Mig won must count amongst the most dreary. Wiggins' praising the great gloof is a little like someone too young to remember the grace of McEnroe banging on about what an inspiration Peter Sampras was.
Mapping Le Tour isn't just a romp through past history; it's slap bang up to date for the 100th edition with a page and map per stage for the 2013 race that reference past tour stages in the same areas.
In addition there's a set of many of the usual mountains covered for 'The Tour's most memorable places' and a few more personal location choices for Bacon. Although it's good to see The Vosges and Normandy getting the nod I doubt many fans would consider the Dublin depart in 1998 as worthy for inclusion alongside the London Depart in 2007 and although Bacon gets all misty eyed about Indurain (ITMA) time trialling around the Lac de Vassiviere it couldn't have been that exciting as the Tour hasn't been back in 18 years.
Still, it's the quality of thought gone into the layout, and such personal idiosyncrasies that lift Mapping Le Tour above a perfunctory cash in. Mapping Le Tour is a worthy celebration of the Tour's 100 races for knowledgeable fans and a great introduction to those new to the tour.
It's a rich and very readable guide to every Tour since the Tour began.
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Make and model: Mapping Le Tour by Ellis Bacon
Size tested: n/a
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
It's just an appetizer for those sad souls who leap onto Twitter to correct Phil Liggert over 'the last time Charlemagne was in Limoges...' but there's enough stats here to please any pub quizzer or new fan wanting to play 100 year catch up.
At £25 it's well made with nice touches such as the binder cloth being in yellow.
Age: 47 Height: Weight:
I usually ride: A 20 year old Condor Italia on the school run. My best bike is: Condor Moda Ti - summer bike
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding,