This is the biggest cycling book I've ever seen! It's a coffee table behemoth, a weighty tome and stunning.
This is the biggest cycling book I’ve ever seen! It’s a coffee table behemoth, a weighty tome and stunning. Being the 100th Tour de France Rouleur decided to do something different with their usual photo annual and scrapped it in favour of this book. There is a rather funny email printed at the beginning of the book that explains all of this and it sounds madcap to say the least, or absolute brilliance or maybe a mixture of both. To be honest that is roughly my view on the Tour de France.
Seeing as I grew up surrounded by print and printers [my dad started his career as a camera operator, they used to make the negatives for making printing plates] the first thing I want to focus on is the quality of this wonderfully oversized beast of a book. As a printophile I’m in awe of this book. Casebound, scuff resistant finish to the cover, cool end papers and just an amazing finish to the whole job. Printed in Spain, who are fairly well known for fine quality affordable printing (Italy in my opinion are the best book finishers but, this book is good). It is also of note they credit the font and the size the copy is set in, this is an old tradition that dates back to letterpress print and in case you’re wondering this book is printed CMYK sheet fed litho (and I would hazard a guess it was printed on a Speedmaster from Heidelberg). So don’t worry about shabby quality here – Rouleur don’t do shabby.
Basically they sent sent seven writers and photographers on the road at the Tour de France, each given three stages to record their individual takes on La Grande Boucle. This has in turn produced the usual. Now when I say usual, I mean usual for Rouleur. Stunning photography and writing from start to finish. As always things are a little left of field and I think really Rouleur hold the crown on this, they document the things that until the arrival of the Rapha/Rouleur style, things were a little more plaid, just the racing material. Then Rouleur brought a further and much needed insight to the things that happen, not just the race and that has been fascinating. This style is very apparent in this centenary book and it’s a great testament to the madcap and brilliance of the Tour de France.
You hear riders stories, you here fans stories, villages and so on. Each adding a layer to the 100th Tour, a layer that would otherwise been lost to the straight facts and times the riders rode in and so on. Whilst that is the result the ingredients are often missed or ignored, here the Tour is laid open, you can see many angles and insights. Moments of suffering and moments of joy and not just for the riders! All in a glorious riot of text, colour and black & white images.
What is not to like about this book? Very little as long as you leave it on the coffee table as it really is a monster and I was quite surprised by the price, expecting it to have a much higher price tag. Not often that happens with this high end stuff! Classy. I really like the way each stage is a chapter and the graphic way they’ve done it.
If you want to own a book on the 100th edition of the Tour de France where an English bloke won this is the one, forget the rest. It's engaging, you just want to look at it, inspect the pictures and read the stories. The only fault and it's really not a problem is the shear size of it, I'm glad I didn't drop it on my foot. But seriously if you are in need of that celebratory book just buy this one, you will be very happy with it. Lovely book with that Rouleur style all over it.
Review date: 23 November 2013