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Hardcover $27.00
Available Jun 06, 2017
The First Tour de France
Sixty Cyclists and Nineteen Days of Daring on the Road to Paris


The first Tour De France was a far cry from the polished international sporting event we see on television today. Organized by the financially free falling L'Auto magazine, the desperate editors thought that organizing a grand cycling tour was the only thing that could save their publication. But in 1903, cyclists weren't enthusiastic about what was pitched to them as a heroic race through roads more suited to hooves than wheels, with bikes weighing up to forty-four pounds, on a single fixed gear, for three full weeks. Assembling enough riders for the race meant bribing unemployed laborers from the suburbs of Paris, including a butcher, a blacksmith, a chimney sweep, and a wrestler. Through these characters backstories, Cossins paints a nuanced portrait of France in the early 1900's. The race itself is packed with mishaps and adventure—in part due to the fact that water was scarce at the time, so the men drank wine and beer throughout, often keeling over from their bicycles in a drunken stupor.

There was no indication that a ramshackle cycling pack would draw crowds to throng France's rutted roads and cheer the first Tour heroes. But they did, and cycling would never be the same again.

about Peter Cossins

  • Peter Cossins has written about professional cycling since 1993 and is a contributing editor to Procycling magazine. He has covered sixteen Tours de France, writing for the Guardian, Times, and Telegraph, and is the author of several previous books on cycling related subjects.

other editions

  • Hardcover | ISBN 9781568589848
    Pub date: 06/06/2017 | Price: $27.00
    Publisher: Nation Books
    5.750 x 8.500 | 384 Pages
  • eBook | ISBN 9781568589855
    Pub date: 06/06/2017 | Price: $17.99 / 0.00 Canada
    Publisher: Nation Books
    384 Pages