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Racing in the time of the Super-Teams showcases the best writing from La Course en Tête's website about the 2021 racing season. In only its second year of publication there has (once again) been plenty to cover, a task undertaken by several respected writers.
La Course en Tête is a website where the 'goal is to comment on what's going on in the two-wheeled world in the most authoritative manner we can, interpreting and celebrating what we firmly believe is the most spectacular, demanding and fun sport on the planet'.
Every few days a short article will appear about whatever is topical in the world of cycle racing, often with an unusual perspective, and it is a site that I enjoy and visit regularly. I have never understood how it is funded, because there is no advertising – which is increasingly unusual for any free-to-view website. Not complaining, just hoping that it is sustainable! Perhaps the small number of 'business partners' are assisting?
This book is a selection of the best contributions to the website from across the year in a print format, plus a few extra articles to make things more complete and coherent.
In some ways it is like The Cycling Anthology books, being a miscellany of articles from a variety of writers. However, whereas the Anthology's chapters often ran to 40 pages, with Racing in the time of the Super-Teams they are typically a tenth of that; at this point one might worry about attention spans and the audience that La Course en Tête is seeking – but although shorter, there is no less substance to the articles.
That shouldn't be a surprise given the calibre of contributor, with most having a long history of journalism in the sport – and a few books to their name, many of which we have reviewed. Editor Will Fotheringham wrote about Beryl Burton recently, Peter Cossins about the Pyrenees, and Jeremy Whittle helped Jonathan Vaughters.
In fact, those three also contributed to at least one of the Anthology volumes, and I suspect they will attract a fairly similar audience here.
There are a few pictures, but they are nothing to get excited about. While they are big, colourful, and relevant, with only nine of them they are never going to be the main attraction. However, it is worth looking around the SWPix.com website, which is the agency that supplied the pictures, but be warned – you could spend a lot of time looking back at a season of snaps.
This is the second review of a road racing season from La Course en Tête, and the title is a reference to the increasing prevalence of all-powerful squads.
There is a chapter from Fotheringham exploring the phenomenon of super-teams (both men's and women's), exploring the positives and negatives of such a concentration of strength, and the feasibility (and indeed desirability) of trying to control such a thing. I appreciate that part of my enjoyment may be a result of this being one of the all-new pieces of writing rather than something I had already read during the year, but for me it was one of the highlights of the book.
That chapter hasn't appeared on the website, so it looks as though the only way to read such new material is in the book. It's a bit like producing a 'greatest hits' album, but including one or two previously unreleased tracks that won't be available elsewhere.
The first volume appeared last year, and was called Racing in the time of Covid Obviously, Covid was still present this year, it's just that it didn't disrupt racing to the same extent – just as super-teams were around last year, but perhaps not to quite the same degree. It launched a format that continues into this year, providing a different type of year-end review to The Road Book.
The return of La Course en Tête's review of the year, providing a condensed narrative of the 2021 racing season
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road.cc test report
Make and model: La Course en Tete Racing in the time of the Super-Teams
Size tested: 260 pages
Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
From the publisher:
Racing in the Time of the Super-Teams incorporates blogs from the lacourseentete.com website, with some additional commissioned material. There are contributions from all the writers who have supplied content to the website in 2021: Nick Bull, Peter Cossins, William Fotheringham, Amy Jones, Sadhbh O'Shea, Sophie Smith and Jeremy Whittle, with 'guest appearances' from Lars B Jørgensen and Marco Pastonesi.
The book is effectively a sequel to last year's well received Racing in the Time of Covid, a review of the tumultuous 2020 season.
Racing in the Time of the Super-Teams will be available as a limited edition paperback with colour pictures, and on publication on October 25 will also be on sale as a print-on-demand paperback via Amazon Kindle Direct, and will also be available as an ebook.
'Last year we set ourselves the challenge of producing the book in the space of a couple of weeks, given the condensed nature of the season, with the Vuelta finishing in early November,' said Fotheringham. 'This year the cycling season is almost back to normal, so we can offer the book on sale earlier. Like last year's, it's not a comprehensive blow-by-blow review, but it offers a wealth of fine reading about another dramatic year in cycling.'
'I'd like to thank all my fellow writers for the content, our podcast specialist OJ Borg, designer Matt Morris, SWPix.com, whose photographers Alex Broadway and Alex Whitehead have provided a fantastic internal colour plate section, and our editorial partners at Peloton, who have supported us again this year.'
lacourseentete.com is a website founded in May 2020 by a group of cycling media workers to produce long-form journalism about bike racing. The group has worked throughout 2021 with US magazine Peloton to produce content in the form of blogs and podcasts about the biggest races on the calendar.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Title: Racing in the time of the Super-Teams
Author: Will Fotheringham
Date: November 2021
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well, with comment about several key points from the season.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Short chapters mean that it can be read in short sittings.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Limited image offering.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
Cycling doesn't have any other 'year in review' book quite like this, so it is a new experience for our sport. Just be aware that much of the writing has already appeared on a website, so it is the format as much as the content that is unique.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding,