The fascinating and unknown story of the Tour de France’s ever-changing relationship with money and power – and the enigmatic family behind it all.
It started with a cash drop by an English spy in occupied Paris in 1944. Reserved for Resistance groups during the war, the money reached Emilien Amaury, an advertising executive, who was tasked to help France return to a free press once liberated. He soon launched a newspaper empire that – unbeknown to him – would own the rights to run what would become one of the greatest sporting events in history.
Le Tour, once a struggling commercial phenomenon, began to rise in popularity across much of western Europe in the glum years after the Second World War, lifting the mood of the hungry and despondent French. But with the increased interest in the event, exacerbated by the creation of television and the internet, came several cultural threats to national heritage. Multiple attempts to wrest power and profits from the latest generation of the Amaury family – who still own the race and take tens of millions of euros home in dividends – have followed, but not without a fight.
Fast-paced and fastidiously researched, Le Fric illustrates how moments off the bike at the Tour de France are every bit as gripping as the battle for the yellow jersey.
The compelling story moves effortlessly from the empty boulevards of German-occupied Paris to the heart of the City of London, from a quiet house in Tring, Herts, to the 21 lungbusting hairpin turns on theascent to Alpe d'Huez. One of the best books you will read this year. * Daily Mail, Sports Books of the Year * Le Fric lifts the veil on the obscure family who run the world's most famous bicycle race, the Tour de France . . . Duff welds together the sporting and business worlds in a way that is always entertaining - like the race itself * Sunday Times, Sports Books of the Year * A rip-roaring read about war, money, politics and sport . . . The 300 pages flew by . . . Deftly covers the big stories and personalities without getting sensational, it's a page-turner but informative and well-sourced. Sports fans should enjoy it and anyone with an interest in media history in France would do well to read it too. * Inner Ring * Brilliant . . . a business history with the rhythm and suspense of a mystery thriller and plenty of curious revelations you will surely be repeating in conversation. * Stelvio * Rollicking * Times Literary Supplement * Le Fric brings new insight to the Tour de France . . . A welcome attempt to unravel the secretive business model and ownership of cycling's best-known event. * Road.cc * Sports book of the year * De Tijd *
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