MAPPING THE TOUR
Author: Ellis Bacon
ISBN: 978 0 00 754399 1
PRICE: £17 Paperback
No-one would deny that the Tour de France dominates the racing calendar, and judging by the number of books that are written about the race it also dominates book publishers’ cycling agendas. No other cycle race has spawned quite so many books, but it still manages to inspire new and different ideas – like this one. ‘Mapping le Tour’ originally came out in hardback last year, but has now been re-published in paperback to coincide with the race’s start in the UK.
The book offers a double page spread for each of the years that the race has been run, with one full page given over to a map with the race route superimposed on it. The maps cover France, and (where necessary) whatever other European country the race started in that year. The scale of the maps varies over the years from 1:4,000,000 to 1:5,000,000, with the scale dependent on whose mapping is used for that year. Since 1980 it has been supplied by the combination of Collins and Bartholomew, who have a long history of excellence in such matters.
It might look as though the official race route that is published by the race organisers has simply been superimposed onto the base map, but in reality differences in projection and scale made that impossible. What actually happened is that each route had to be ‘digitised’ first, which although time-consuming then gave the designers total flexibility. However, at this scale don’t expect the result to give you enough detail to follow the exact route of the race - except perhaps where there is only the one road available, such as can be the case with some mountain stages.
The page facing the map gives a brief summary of the race, along with key facts and figures: again, nothing that is not available elsewhere, but a
Reviewed by Richard Peploe
convenient and concise reference work. Similarly there are a few pages of facts and figures at the start, such as a league table of number of days in the yellow jersey by riders, or the frequency of any location hosting a Grand Depart. Whilst these statistics are destined to become out of date, the maps and routes are an unchanging record of the facts.
Other bonus features include extended coverage of a few places that have played a significant part in the race: many mountains feature here, such as the Col de Tourmalet. Less obvious locations include Bordeaux and London.
It is worth noting that it is always the published race route that is shown: if there were any deviations or amendments on the day, they are not shown. The Tour does not experience many such changes of plan, unlike the Giro d’Italia which is held earlier in the year and often has to avoid mountain roads blocked by snow.
The book came out after the race route was known, but before the team details had been announced. Given what we now know about the Sky team’s internal politics and the race result, the statement that “Bradley Wiggins ... should be an extremely able co-captain [to Chris Froome]” was never going to happen, but would have been an excellent plan B for the Sky team.
The book provides a handy summary of the routes for the first 101 editions of the race, and gives a new and interesting insight to le Tour.
For those who prefer the feel of hardback books, the original publication is still available at £25. Apart from the obvious, the only difference is that you gain a stage-by-stage breakdown of the 2013 race, but have nothing on the 2014 race.
REVIEW FIRST PUBLISHED OCTOBER 2014