Search for your sports books:

Featured Publisher: John Blake
Apart form its current publications, John Blake Publishing has a sizeable back list of acclaimed sporting titles. These include biographies of stars such as Roger Federer, WG Grace, Fernando Torres and Frankie Dettori. For more information, visit www.blake.co.uk



Read Review
<back to archive

Merckx: Half Man, Half Bike By William Fotheringham

Release date: 23rd March, 2012
Publisher: Yellow Jersey Press

List Price: £16.99
Our Price: £10.19
You Save: £6.8 (40%)
Buy Now

William Fotheringham wastes no time describing Eddy Merckx's courage, recalling an incident from the 1975 Tour de France in the introduction to this excellent biography.

Despite experiencing a crash in the early part of a tough stage through Alpine passes as the peleton headed towards the finish at Avoriaz ski station, Merckx managed to close the gap on the race leader. There's nothing necessarily unusual in that, except, as Fotheringham tells us, "for a man who had broken his jaw that morning the series of brutal accelerations and the miniscule time gain were truly remarkable."

Following the race, X-rays revealed that Merckx had suffered a double fracture of his cheekbone and had a bone splinter floating near his sinuses. He could only take fluids and had no sensation on one side of his face. There were only six days of Le Tour remaining. Merckx could have retired to nurse his injuries. Instead, he chose to fight on, contesting the race right to the finish line, so ensuring the eventual winner, Bernard Thevenet, enjoyed a 'total triumph'.

To describe Eddy Merckx as a hard-as-nails competitor is a little like saying Sir Alex Ferguson is a decent football manager. Between 1969 and 1974, he won the Tour de France five times and the equally difficult Giro d'Italia four times. He was crowned world cycling champion on three occasions and racked up more than 400 victories in other races, bludgeoning rivals into submission with his relentless, trademark attacks. Little wonder he was known as 'The Cannibal'.

This could have been a book simply laden with statistical evidence of Merckx's greatness, but while the records are remarkable, Fotheringham chooses to add another dimension by investigating the Belgian's ultra- competitiveness: what one French journalist called his "absolute fury to win".

On occasion, even when he was leading comfortably, Merckx could embark upon a 'display of pure strength' as he did on 15th July 1969 when he rode through the Pyrenees in what is often referred to as the greatest single stage ever seen on the Tour de France.

In the 1971 Tour, he was eight minutes behind the leader, but during the course of a single day turned that deficit around, finishing so swiftly that the television crews and the crowds were still at lunch when he crossed the line.

As Fotheringham shows in an early contender for sports book of the year, Merckx was an outstanding athlete who outshone his rivals in this most challenging of sports. Read it.


<back to archive


Toolstation


SBOTM Current Top 10

Unstoppable: My Life So Far By Maria Sharapova
Particular Books
Read Review Buy Now
Over and Out: My Innings of a Lifetime with Test Match Special By Henry Blofeld
Hodder & Staughton
Read Review Buy Now
Football: My Life, My Passion By Graeme Souness
Headline
Read Review Buy Now
Rugby, The Game Of My Life: Battling For England in the Professional Era By Rob Andrew
Hodder & Staughton
Read Review Buy Now
Ali: A Life By Jonathan Eig
Simon & Schuster
Read Review Buy Now
A Clear Blue Sky By Jonny Bairstow with Duncan Hamilton
Harper Collins
Read Review Buy Now
From Orient to the Emirates The Plucky Rise of Burnley FC By Tim Quelch
Pitch Publishing
Read Review Buy Now
Ascent By Sir Chris Bonnington
Simon & Schuster
Read Review Buy Now
Glove Story By Rob Stokes, Derek Hammond & Gary Silke
Conker Editions
Read Review Buy Now
The Way of the Runner A Journey Into the Fabled World of Japanese Running By Adharanand Finn
WW Norton
Read Review Buy Now

Amazon’s top 6 best-sellers

© Sharks Media Ltd 2004 – 2012. Site designed and maintained by Marcus Hamblett for Furydesign.