Search the news archive:
Ryan Barrett Reviews the Cycling Novel "The Tour"
By Staff
Date: 10/15/2006
Ryan Barrett Reviews the Cycling Novel "The Tour"

Ryan Barrett Reviews the Cycling Novel "The Tour"
You find yourself pulling for the hero, willing him to make the right choices as often as you are cursing the villain. What more can you ask for? 

Gy Ryan Barrett

I picked up “The Tour” back in July with the sincerest of intentions to review it straightaway.  I read the book within a day or so, but then something funny happened.  We were about to have second kid, so things were a bit hectic.  Then, we had Morgan and things were more hectic. 

A few days later, I started Tour of Utah and by the time that was over, I more or less put off reviewing the book.  So last week when I ran into the author, Dave Shields, I sheepishly said “I’ll get on the review”.  Upon further reflection, it is pretty clear to me the reason I put off the review had little to do with babies or Tour of Utah, and more to do with the books’ content.  Specifically, drugs in sport.  I just wasn’t sure how to handle the books’ take on this issue.  So with some trepidation, I am just going to dive right in.

Ryan "digs in" to "The Tour"

“The Tour” picks up straight where “The Race” left off.  Main character, Ben Barnes finds himself leading the Tour de France.  Shields does an impressive job explaining the stages, including route profiles and getting inside the team structure.  Moreso than any novel I’ve had the pleasure of reading “The Tour” looks at the set-up and hierarchy of the team from riders and staff to management, even the team’s owner, who in this case is a shrewd businessman who ultimately looks to control his team’s destiny even if it means losing the race. 

The owner of the team attempts to persuade Ben to use whatever means necessary to win the race, going so far as to pull riders from the race, and threaten Ben’s fiancée.  Ultimately, the story is about choices and who the real heroes are in sport and life.

Now this where it gets tricky.  The big issue that Ben has to deal with is drugs.  He is a clean rider, and doesn’t want to go down that path. Author Dave Shields has the difficult task of explaining the use of performance enhancing drugs to readers who may not know that much of the history in the sport of cycling. 

The result is that Ben asks a lot of questions that I think most category racers would know the answer to, and for me, it is pretty hard to believe that anyone who has reached that level in the sport would not have such basic knowledge.  In pointing this out, I am reminded of watching movies with my father-in-law constantly saying, “that would never happen in real life”.  Ahhh, yes, suspension-of-disbelief. This is a novel, after all, but as some of these issues have affected me personally, I found it a little hard to swallow. 

Overall, I found this to be a really fun book. I had to put aside my own biases regarding upper echelon racing, but looking at it as pure fiction, it is a great read. You find yourself pulling for the hero, willing him to make the right choices as often as you are cursing the villain. What more can you ask for? 


Related Articles
Nathan and Karen O'Neill Welcome First Child
Revolution Interviews Franco Ballerini
Rare Opportunity to Bid on Armstrong Signed Yellow Jersey

Copyright © 2002-2011 by Daily Peloton.
| contact us |