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The Breakaway My Story By Nicole Cooke

Release date: 26th February, 2015
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

List Price: £9.99
Our Price: £7.19
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In a week when Lance Armstrong surfaced in a series of stage-managed TV interviews, stealthily manoeuvring into a position that could conceivably see his lifetime cycling ban lifted, it seems appropriate to consider cycling’s considerably more acceptable side in the form of Nicole Cooke’s outstanding autobiography.

Nicole Cooke is the very antithesis of everything Lance Armstrong was and stands for. She remains the only rider ever to have become World and Olympic champion in the same year. She was also the first British cyclist to achieve the rank of world number one, although frustratingly, for her and legions of cycling fans who appreciated the significance of her achievement, it was a status that delivered little in terms of either media profile or wealth.

Prior to the mid-noughties, cycling was still deemed a minority sport, considered an almost exclusively male preserve, its reputation tarnished by widespread accusations of drug-taking. As a woman in a man’s sport, Cooke’s achievements were, as a consequence, overlooked and while she’s not bitter about this, she certainly believes more could have been done by the people running the sport to promote it more effectively.

This is where Cooke really opens up; there are plenty of sporting biographies described as ‘frank and outspoken’, but very few actually live up to the jacket cover hype. The Breakaway is different.

Cooke is generous in her praise for those who helped her career, but she pulls no punches when naming others, often those in positions of authority, who she considers either stupid, incompetent, or downright malevolent. What makes Cooke’s criticism effective is her willingness to acknowledge the times when she was wrong.

Yet The Breakaway is no diatribe. At its heart, it is a compelling tale of sporting ambition and determination which resulted in Cooke becoming one of Britain’s greatest-ever cyclists.

First published in hardback last year, The Breakaway will appear in paperback format later this month – around the time that Armstrong will learn whether he can get officially back on his bike. Sports fans should buy this book in order to read the story of a female rider who loves cycling with a passion, not someone who now considers it a means to an end.


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