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Sex, Lies and Handlebar Tape: The Remarkable Life of Jacques Anquetil, the First Five-Times Winner of the Tour de France Paperback – Aug 22 2011

3.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Paperback, Aug 22 2011
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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Mainstream Publishing (Aug. 22 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1845964616
  • ISBN-13: 978-1845964610
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 358 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #276,335 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


"An extraordinary biography."  —Times magazine

"Paul Howard has not allowed Anquetil's astonishing love life to overwhelm his equally extraordinary career . . . an impeccably researched book."  —Independent on Sunday (Book of the Week)

About the Author

Paul Howard is a writer and journalist who contributes frequently to cycling magazines and the author of Riding High.

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Jacques Anquetil inspired a generation of cycling fans with his brilliant performances on a bike - Amphetamines and alcohol aside, he was for a while "the Prince of France" as well as the most important element in the peleton and to the avid writers within the press. There cannot be many sportsmen with so much intrigue to relay to keep the reader facinated to the final page. Well written by an author who must have researched well for all of the contents of a lifetime that can be told as an excellent story.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A life story about one of the most notorious bike racers out there. Could have been a little more engaging though.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa3561d74) out of 5 stars 41 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa349ea44) out of 5 stars Well written and informative Feb. 22 2012
By texasmike - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Many cycling books are poorly written and you want to put them down after five pages. This book is not - it is entertaining and well-crafted and reveals the story behind one of the greatest cycling legends. Always in control on the bike, Anquetil crashed through the boundaries of everyday life while always selfishly choosing his own desires.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa349ec90) out of 5 stars More of a career bio than I expected Nov. 2 2012
By Fireform - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a very informative book about a cycling great who is less appreciated in the US than he should be. The book title and trimmings indicate that it focusses on the salacious details of his personal life, but while these are covered the book is really more of a complete biography with lots of material from his racing career, memories of his teammates and opponents, and so on. Very good read.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa349ec54) out of 5 stars jacques anquetil sounds like he lived quite a life! Nov. 10 2012
By Ed W - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It was refreshing to read about some old school cycling and an icon from the time. Very interesting to get some insight on how a cycling champion from another era did his thing. I had no idea about his family life, wow...
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa349ef48) out of 5 stars Sex, Lies and Handelbar tape Oct. 26 2010
By Walt Downey - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A great read about a fascinating legend of cycling. His personal life makes today's "celebs" sound boring!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa349efa8) out of 5 stars Consider the Whole Man Nov. 23 2015
By Doctor Moss - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Before reading this book, I had little knowledge of Jacques Anquetil. I knew he was one of the greats of cycling, and I thought of him as a special hero within French cycling.

Setting aside his personal life for the moment, let’s not forget how great a cyclist Anquetil really was. He was the first of the five time Tour de France winners, and he could arguably have won more. He won the Giro d’Italia twice and the Vuelta a Espana once. He once owned the hour record, won one of the classic “Monuments” races, and on and on.

I hadn’t known about his unorthodox attitudes toward training. He trained intensively for only short periods of time. He seemed inattentive to needs for rest or a healthy diet, maybe even flaunting disdain for such things. He seemed actually to thrive on doing all the wrong things to his body — drinking, eating rich foods, cutting his sleep short even in preparation for and during stage races. That he still won was either a testament to his overwhelming natural ability, his insuperable will to win, or maybe just a real finger in the eye of accepted wisdom.

The book details his rivalries — there were more than just his most famous duels with Raymond Poulidor. Louison Bobet was there at the beginning of Anquetil’s career, and even Eddy Merckx at the end. Along the way, there were Charly Gaul, Arnaldo Pambianco, Rudi Altig, and many more. The stories of these rivalries and the play of Anquetil’s ego within them, sometimes very fragile and sometimes impregnable, are the focus of Howard’s account of Anquetil’s racing career.

Then there’s the personal life. Howard threads Anquetil’s personal life through his racing career, but he only focuses on the downright bizarre toward the end of the book. He doesn’t pull back or offer excuses for the strange turns of Anquetil’s love life — his long relationship with and marriage to Jeanine (who had been his doctor’s wife when the relationship first began), his relationship with his daughter-in-law Annie, his fathering of a daughter, Sophie, with Annie, and, just to top the whole thing off, his relationship with his stepson’s wife, Dominique.

Howard sticks to reporting. He doesn’t try to explain or excuse, beyond what’s offered by some of Anquetil’s friends and family. The facts paint a pretty bizarre picture.

I’ve read biographies in recent years of flawed heroes in cycling and elsewhere — Steve Jobs, Neil Young, Lance Armstrong, Mickey Mantle. All of them were or are people with serious flaws, some more serious than others. I would never argue that we should not admire their greatness, but their greatness cannot exonerate them for their shortcomings and transgressions, either.

It’s tempting to read Howard’s book as two stories — one of a great cyclist and the other of, at best, a very strange personal life. But it’s one person and one life. That’s the realization we have to leave with. Nobody is so one dimensional as we sometimes think our heroes and villains are.