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Boy Racer - My Journey to Tour de France Record-Breaker by Mark Cavendish

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating

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Mark Cavendish Boy Racer book cover image

The Bottom Line

Mark Cavendish: Boy Racer is a terrific look inside the world of professional cycling and what it's like to be one of the sport's biggest stars. Smartly organized in alternating sections that move between racing accounts and a look at Mark Cavendish's background and upbringing, the book keeps the colorful, bold statements that have made Cavendish both admired and despised among cycling professionals and fans, and a favorite among journalists everywhere for his propensity to give a good quote. Whether you like his opinions or not, there is no question that Cavendish will tell you what he thinks, and he does it here.

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Pros

  • Fresh, well-written account gives first-hand look inside world of professional cycling
  • Color photographs of personal life plus racing action
  • Smartly organized to keep action moving between race accounts, growing up and current personal life

Cons

  • Too much time on Cavendish's stay at British Cycling Academy - slows the book down.

Description

  • Ghost-written by cycling journalist Daniel Friebe.
  • 320 pages, softcover, color photographs
  • Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.9 x 0.9 inches
  • Publisher: VeloPress (June 1, 2010)

Guide Review - Boy Racer - My Journey to Tour de France Record-Breaker by Mark Cavendish

Boy Racer: Mark Cavendish - My Journey to Tour de France Record-Breakers is the story of Mark Cavendish's rise to the top of the cycling world, peaking (thus far) with his capture of six stages at the 2009 Tour de France. Written as an autobiography, the book uses a format that follows each day of the 2009 Tour de France and offers each stage as its own chapter.

The chapters, however, focus specifically on the action of the race only when somethng specifically interesting or significant to/for Cavendish happens. So there is some race action to be sure, exciting accounts of chases and team strategy for specific stages, but much of the time the sections detail Cavendish's life (somewhat chronologically sorted) and background as a cyclist and steps to the apex of the professional world. This was a very smart approach to telling the story. Really, there are only so many ways you can describe a sprint finish, and the interesting segments involving Cavendish's training, movement between teams, and interaction with famous and infamous characters in the world of professional cycling help keep the action moving.

The best parts are the actual racing, closely followed by inside accounts of what it's like to be a professional cyclist. And in telling the racing, it's not just a description of winning the sprint to take a stage. It's Cavendish relating his work with his teammates, the extraordinary sacrifices the no-name pros make to position the leaders of each team to be in the right spot so they can win a stage or the whole tour with loyalty and devotion so deep it'll make you want to cry. It's him describing what it's like to go ripping down a mountain in the Tour at speeds around 60 miles, and then trying to make it back to the gruppetto after a bad crash, trying desperately to finish under the time cut to avoid being dropped from the Tour with a body screaming in pain from effort and injury.

The book has a few slow parts, mostly a result of trying to write an autobiography about a guy who is only in his early 20's. There's simply not that much material. For instance, Cavendish spends too long talking about his two years at the British Cycling Academy, but once he moves past that and into his early days as a pro, the speed picks up again.

For cycling fans with an intense passion and knowledge about the sport, this will be a very enjoyable book, just as it will for the casual observer or even someone who doesn't know much about bike racing at all. From accounts of his interactions with the biggest names in professional cycling to details of life in the fishbowl as one of the most famous athletes in the world, this book is one to get your hands on.

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Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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