I approached "Tour Fever" with some reservation. I will admit to a level of Franco Phobia and a certain disdain for competitive sports, especially competitive cycling, and the Tour especially. I will also admit that I felt that a good deal of this arose form my ignorance of the subject, particularly the Tour, so this read was a natural fit.
How did it go? Wonderfully! Partland has once again taken his narrative style and wrapped it around a comprehensive detailing of all that make the Tour so attractive for those who understand it.
Partland deals with the history in a colorful and interesting manner somehow bringing to life the development of not only the Tour but, also the sport and the athletes who participate in it. We see the field morph from hard edged rogues who laid it all and more on the line in a do or die effort, into a high tech strategic team effort choreographed with the precision of a political campaign.
Speaking of politics, yes that is covered as well, international and internecine battles rage for the slightest advantage, be that physical, mechanical, or psychological. We learn of the machinations of the tour founder in hopes of maximizing the impact of the tour on his private publishing business, and how the impact of economics still dictate so much today.
But by far the most detail is expended and the most information conveyed on the topic of the competition and on the bikes. How the field interacts, how the strategies are played out, how the various competitions within the tour impact and reflect upon the ultimate victors.
The bottom line is that I learned more than I really ever wanted to know about the tour, and honestly I will probably now be more able to enjoy the event through this knowledge, and to converse with more knowledge and interest. But, I am really still a simple guy. To me a race was... start here together - whoever makes it there first, wins.
But, nooooo, that would be too simple.
Read the book!