Before he became a controversial journalist, Irishman Paul Kimmage was a cyclist. And a rather good one at that. In the mid to late 80s he rode for four years as a pro in Europe including multiple starts in the Tour de France. He even made it all the way to Paris in one of them. A true domestique, most of Kimmage’s riding career was spent in the shadow of more illustrious countrymen, Kelly and Roche, scraping together a modest living from pro races and criteriums – something that no doubt makes this brutally candid biography even more compelling. Whilst first published over 20 years ago, it’s still remarkably relevant today. Several additions to the original version add further relevance too. Be warned, this is no inspirational glory story. But it’s well written, carefully-considered and paints a fascinating picture of the less glamourous side of pro cycling, warts and all.

In one of the book’s more surprising moments (for me, anyway) Kimmage – an outspoken anti-doping campaigner – reveals he was no cleanskin, confessing to have ridden ‘charged up’ on more than one occasion during his riding career. He also tears shreds off reformed doper, and one of carbon addiction’s favourite riders, Mr David Millar. Not sure I agree with his assessment, but it’s always interesting to hear what those on the other side of the peloton think.

Well worth a read. 4 stars (out of 5).


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