The Tour de France is 100 years old and there have been about the same number of books launched to celebrate the Centenary. cuts through the chaff and chooses the best 21 TdF books. PLUS: Win a FREE copy of the Official Tour de France Centennial, published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson, £25, and packed with fantastic photographs from l'Equipe, see base of article for details.

Tour tomes: here are the top 21 books for roadie readers

There are some truly outstanding books covering the Tour de France which are guaranteed to get customers fired up, leaping out of their armchairs to imitate their heroes and spend loads of dosh in bike shops. Some of the books below are timeless classics, others are recent imprints.

All prices are retail. Where both hardback and softback versions are available, the price of the softback has been used.

The Official Tour de France Centennial

Weidenfeld & Nicolson, £25.00

This is the official guide and no expense has been spared in finding the best pictures and stories from the archives of French sports newspaper, l’Equipe, successor to l’Auto, the newspaper which founded the race in 1903. It’s a translated-from-the-French coffee table book with year by year descriptions of Le Tour. There’s a great intro from tour director Jean-Marie Leblanc and a foreword from Lance Armstrong. To win your own copy of The Official Tour de France Centennial, see below.

It’s not about the Bike

Armstrong, £8.00

Winner of the ‘Sports Book of the Year 2000’, this book has all the essential ingredients of any good fiction blockbuster; but truth is stranger than fiction. An awe-inspiring tale of immense courage and will, and a thumping good read for non-cyclists, too.

Kings of the Mountains

Rendell, £16.99

A fine piece of investigative journalism into the murky goings on behind cycle racing in Colombia. Sales of this title were spurred on by a Channel 4 documentary on the same subject.

A century of cycling; the classic races and legendary champions

Fotheringham, £20

Packed with useful profiles of the best known riders.

Tour de France: History, Legend and Riders

Fife, £9.99

The story of the Tour de France 1903 to 2002; written with pace and enthusiasm. "Difficult to put down," said The Independent.

French Revolutions

Moore, £6.99

Rated 9/10 by Cycling Plus, "great entertainment for all fans of France and La Grande Boucle." The Bookseller goes further: "a tale of calorific excess, ludicrous clothing and intimate discomfort…incredibly funny." There’s an audio tape read by Jeremy Hardy at £9.99 for customers who don’t read.

Put me back on my bike

Fotheringham, £15.99

Sub titled "in search of Tom Simpson," this book has come in for much criticism from the cyclesport Old Guard, and high critical acclaim from the sports writing fraternity.

Cycling Heroes

Woodland, £9.99

Les Woodland has been cycle sport’s best selling author for donkey’s years; this is one of his best so don’t be put off by the dreadful cover design, there are rivetting stories straight from the horses’ mouths crammed into these pages.

The Unknown Tour de France

Woodland, £9.95

Les Woodland has an uncanny habit of dredging up oddball stories and characters connected with the Tour de France. Very amusing.

A Moustache, Poison and Blue Glasses

Novrup, £11.95

Competition for Les Woodland; more wackier stories still from the Tour de France annals. Where do they all come from? Solid entertainment.

Giants of cycling

Ollivier, £34.00

Spoilt for choice this year with blockbusters; here’s another mighty tome… lots of good photography and accounts of all the stars’ derring do.

Eddy Merckx

Vanwalleghem, £22.99

The feats of The Cannibal recorded for posterity in many superb photographs.

The Foreign Legion

Guinness, £9.99

The story of the English-speaking riders who fought their way in to continental teams to race, via the ACBB amateur cycling club in France. Frank and outspoken stories behind the media line. All the favourites from the 70s and 8’s are here; Paul Sherwen, Graham Jones, Sean Yates, Robert Millar, Stephen Roche, Phil Anderson, Allan Peiper, Greg Lemond and Sean Kelly.

Tales from the Toolbox

Parr, £8.00

One of 1998’s best sellers; written (with the not inconsiderable help of Rupert Guinness) by Scott Parr (ex) professional bicycle mechanic with the Motorola US cycle racing team for 4 years. Intimate behind the scenes "warts and all" look at the team before it hit the bigtime.

Fausto Coppi

Augendre, £29.99

Photographic and elegiac tribute to the man regarded as the Campionissimo of racing cyclists. Beautifully produced book. Stuffed with courage, determination, tragedy, glory, the fierce rivalry with Bartali, and his love affair with the "white lady".

Maillot Jaune

Ollivier, £32.00

The story of the golden fleece from 1919 to the present. Big, heavy, coffee table prop with lots of heroic photos. Wonderful cover shot redolent of 60s Brylcreem.

Lance Armstrong’s Comeback from Cancer

Abt, £9.95

Sam Abt’s biography has taken much of a back seat to our hero’s authorised biography but it nevertheless deserves a read for the dispassionate view.

Boardman: Career in Pictures

O’Connor & Watson, £17.95

A celebration of the sub-aqua diver’s achievements.

20 years of Cycling Photography

Watson, £25.00

Ideal for customers with short attention spans.

The Yellow Jersey

Herne, £13.95

The first major cycle racing novel. It very nearly became a feature film with Dustin Hoffman playing the lead. "Sports fiction at its best," said The New York Times.

All the books above can be ordered from Bicycling Books. For orders of £100+ you get 35 percent discount and carriage paid.

Tel: 01432 340666

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But if your customers won’t extend to buying coffee table numbers, or quirky volumes about Tours of the past, how about the cheaper, slimmer guides from the cycle mag publishers? Last week carried news of the official Tour de France guide, published by Procycling in association with Eurosport. But, of course, IPC, publisher of Cycling Weekly and Cycle Sport has also produced a centenary special called, descriptively, Tour Centenary.

Cycling Weekly is "one of the sport’s few institutions to have already passed the hundred-year milestone," said publisher Keith Foster.

Tour Centenary has been written by Cycling Weekly stalwarts and is 164-pages of nostalgia with bang up-to-date stuff too.

It costs £4.50 and any IBDs wishing to stock ten or more on firm sale can email Keith Foster direct,


No doubt you’ve already festooned your shop with tricolours and plastic sunflowers, but how about some arty Tour de France prints, too? Cycling its heroes and legends is a portfolio of 20 high-quality black and white prints, rated 9/10 by Cycling Plus in April: “a stunning collection of pictures to inspire and humble.” Order from Bicycling Books,

WIN A BOOK has one copy of the Offical Tour Centennial, published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson, to give away. To stand a chance of winning this blockbuster of a book, answer the following question and email your answer to

Q: Why is the yellow jersey yellow?

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