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The Descent By Thomas Dekker

Release date: 07th July, 2017
Publisher: Ebury Press

List Price: £9.99
Our Price: £9.09
You Save: £0.9 (9%)
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The Descent is a sports book with a difference. It’s not often that prior to its official launch, an author says he doesn’t care whether his book sells a single copy (his publishers may feel otherwise), but former professional cyclist Thomas Dekker clearly isn’t particularly fussed: “I just felt that I needed to write this story down,” he told one interviewer by way of cathartic justification.

However, we should be glad that Dekker submitted his often hedonistic, occasionally sordid tale to print. Moreover, given its riotous, frequently Bacchanalian nature, there’s every chance it’ll become a huge best-seller.

While his star was still in the ascendant, Thomas Dekker represented the Netherlands at the Athens Olympics and after turning professional, he won the Tirreno–Adriatico in 2006 and the Tour de Romandie the following year.

Desperate to be accepted as one of the gang, Dekker tells of his introduction to pro-cycling’s highest echelons, an episode which involves a towel, a team-mate and a porn movie; it was, ahem, unconventional, but it sets the tone for a compelling tale of excess.

You sense his descent began the day he walked in to his German hotel room and introduced himself to his Rabobank team-mate assigned to look after him, though we’re unsure whether a porn movie was part of Dekker’s induction. Sure enough, before long, Dekker is as accomplished at doping as he is adept at blood transfusions. He would serve a two-year ban for drug-taking, but this appears to have had little effect.

Refreshingly, Dekker acknowledges that he only has himself to blame for wrecking such a promising career. In an age when far too many people apportion the responsibility for their predicament on someone else, Dekker has no desire to be considered a ‘victim’. In an interview prior to the book’s UK launch, Dekker maintained that The Descent is “…not a publicity book for myself...It’s honest [and] I’m not blaming anybody else.”

What a relief it is to hear a former pro sportsman take responsibility for his actions. Perhaps this is what makes The Descent so different; it certainly accounts for it being unputdownable.


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