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The Story of the Tour de France
Volume 1: 1903 - 1975

How a Newspaper Promotion Became the Greatest Sporting Event in the World

Revised edition

The Story of the Tour de FranceFormat: Print
6" x 9" Paperback, 421 pages with photographs
Suggested retail print version: $19.95, Kindle eBook: $4.99
Audiobook: $21.95

Here's the link to Volume 2

About the book
About the authors

Get the book: print & Kindle eBook
Amazon audiobook

About the book:

"After forty years of study on the subject, I can with some confidence say Bill and Carol McGann’s The Story of the Tour de France is the finest such work ever produced in the English language, and perhaps in any."
-From the preface by the late Owen Mulholland, author of Uphill Battle

"Besides towering over all bicycle races, the Tour de France endures for its unique Gaulic character, like Victor Hugo's Les Miserables. The McGann's passionate and insightful writing evokes the raucous cast of riders, promoters, and journalists thrusting through highs and lows worthy of opera. This volume stands out as a must-read book for anyone seeking to appreciate cycling's race of races."
-Peter Joffre Nye, author of The Six-Day Bicycle Races: America's Jazz Age Sport and Hearts of Lions

At the dawn of the 20th Century, French newspapers used bicycle races as promotions to build readership. Until 1903 these were one-day events. Looking to deliver a coup de grace in a vicious circulation war, Henri Desgrange—editor of the Parisian sports magazine L’Auto—took the suggestion of one of his writers to organize a race that would last several days longer than anything else, like the 6-day races on the track, but on the road.

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That’s exactly what happened. For almost 3 weeks the riders in the first Tour de France rode over dirt roads and cobblestones in a grand circumnavigation of France. The race was an electrifying success. Held annually (suspended only during the 2 World Wars), the Tour grew longer and more complex with an ever-changing set of rules, as Desgrange kept tinkering with the Tour, looking for the perfect formula for his race.

Henri Desgrange

The father of the Tour de France, Henri Desgrange

Each year a new cast of riders would assemble to contest what has now become the greatest sporting event in the world.

Volume One explores the Tour's origins and takes the reader up to 1975, the year the great Eddy Merckx tried and failed to win a sixth Tour.

Along the way the reader will meet some of the most interesting athletes in sports history, including Jacques Anquetil, the first man to win the Tour five times. We'll never really know how good Anquetil was because he never rode harder than necessary to win. There was Felice Gimondi, who won the Tour when he was only 23. He said it was easy. Gimondi never won the Tour again.

And of course, there is the man many (especially in Italy) think was the most talented rider ever, Fausto Coppi, whose brilliant career was interrupted by the Second World War. Though he won Italy's equivalent of the Tour—called the Giro d'Italia—five times, he won only two Tours.

There are many, many more riders and stories. Come join us, will you? It's all there in The Story of the Tour de France.

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About the Authors:

Bill and Carol McGann have had their lives inextricably tied up with bicycles about as long as they can remember. Their first date was a bike ride. Bill, formerly a Category 1 racer, has been a contributor to several cycling magazines and is widely acknowledged as an expert on road bikes and cycling history. Since his father gave him a small 1-speed English lightweight bicycle when he was 5 years old, Bill has been in love with everything about bikes.

Carol, a former college biology instructor is also an accomplished rider, having cycle-toured extensively. Together they started Torelli Imports in 1981, a firm specializing in high-performance cycle equipment.

Currently they own McGann Publishing and run this website,

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