The Tour: A Novel by Dave Shields
Reviewed by Marty Jemison
One of the ironies of my career as a pro cyclist is that some of the people
closest to me, family members included, never really understood what I was doing
for a living. Most Americans underestimate bike racing because it is a far more
complex sport than it initially appears. I believe that complexity is both a
barrier to attracting new fans, and one of the primary reasons the sport is so
addictive for those who understand it.
After reading Dave Shields’ first cycling story, The Race: A Novel of Grit,
Tactics, and the Tour de France, a family member said, “Wow, Marty, I wish I’d
understood this much about bicycle racing while you were still competing.” Even
my cycling tour guests get much greater insight into the world of pro cycling
after reading the book. I mail every participant a copy of The Race before our
trip begins; which answers a lot of questions about the sport.
All of these are reasons that I looked forward to consulting with Dave when
he told me he planned to write a sequel. But when we first met on this project
and he laid out the topics he wanted to cover I became a bit nervous. The doping
issue, in particular, is very complex. It’s often sensationalized and
misunderstood from an outsider’s perspective. Would Dave be able to engage the
reader closely enough that the very difficult decisions that pro athletes face
The answer is, “Yes.” I sweated through the choices that the main character,
Ben Barnes, had to make, and I think you will too. Along the way there were all
sorts of great surprises. I cringe when I hear that they’ve made a sequel of a
movie that I enjoyed, while at the same time I feel anxious to see it. The
reason is that on many occasions the second attempt falls short of the original.
That’s not the case here.
Dave’s new book, The Tour: A Novel, fills out the adventure he began in
The Race perfectly. Along the way he educates readers on the issues of
performance enhancing drugs. It’s a topic deserving of close inspection, and
this book is a big step in the right direction.
The issue of drugs aside, though, The Tour is a fantastic book. Just as when
I read The Race, I found myself experiencing emotions that I thought had ended
with my retirement from pro cycling. Dave has an almost magical way of putting
the reader in the midst of an intense adventure, and turning up the heat.
Whether you’re already a fan of cycling or not, my recommendation is that you
read this book. You’ll be glad you did.
Marty Jemison lives in Park City, Utah, with his wife and daughter. He’s
one of fewer than two dozen Americans to ever finish the Tour de France, having
done it twice. In 1999 he became the United States Professional Cycling
Champion, the second national championship in his career. Marty was teammates
with Lance Armstrong during his comeback from cancer and played a key role in
several of Armstrong’s early victories. Nowadays he runs Marty Jemison Cycling
Tours, the world’s premier bicycle touring company. His trips explore France,
Spain, Italy, Belgium, and other exotic locations. You can see more at
The Tour is not yet available in stores, but you can
purchase your copy here or
by clicking on the ad on the top right column on the