Last year, I found the book Tour Fever: The Armchair Cyclist's Guide to the Tour de France by J.P. Partland, made a mention in the Tour 2006 list, and got a nice email from J.P. offering a review copy from the publisher.
This spring, with cycling thawing from a cold winter, I took J.P. up on his offer, and received a review copy a few weeks ago.
Darn! I wish I'd asked for this book sooner! :-)
This compact book offers a comprehensive yet brief overview of the Tour de France, from its history and early days, to the current Tours of Armstrong and Landis.
“Tour Fever is an insightful look at the world's greatest bike race, the Tour de France. It educates the novice while providing cutting edge information and reference for the seasoned professional.
—Tom Danielson, Discovery Channel Professional Cycling Team
I especially enjoyed the historical overview of the race, and being reminded that the Tour is rooted in a publicity stunt by a newspaper publisher to save his paper. Yet at the same time, a stunt borne of PR, can also offer a space where cyclists can still prove their endurance and tougness.
Tour Fever covers the basics of how the Tour works and why, and provides a sense of how complex of a beast it is. The book also provides newcomers a good overview of how and why teams are structured, how they operate, the different kinds of racers, the goals of each team and so on.
I've learned many these tidbits through years of following the Tour, listening to Paul Sherwen and Phil Ligget make the call year after year, reading blogs and articles on the web and talking over the details with cycling friends.
But having all of this information in a compact, concise book is so nice. This is an ideal guide for anyone interested in Tour de France and bicycle racing, who doesn't want to wade through bike-speak. In fact, J.P. is very good at writing like a regular person, as he explains the intricacies of the Tour.
If you're interested in checking out the 2008 Tour and want more background on the race, then I reccomend Tour Fever by J.P. Partland.
It's good stuff.