I wrote How I Won The Yellow Jumper throughout 2010, and it was published the following summer. Re-reading it, as I have just done for this homespun audiobook (I have done all the recording and the editing myself at home – so please forgive the flaws), I have been struck by how it has aged.
Firstly, my understanding of the race has grown exponentially, especially since I switched to commentating in 2016. But also, the passage of time means that with very few exceptions almost every rider I talk about, from Robbie McEwen to Michael Rasmussen, Alexander Vinokurov to Lance Armstrong has long since retired.
The chapters on Armstrong, in particular, were interesting to re-read. I remember the legal advice that followed my submission of the first draft. In 2011, Armstrong was still the “rightful” owner of seven Tour titles, and was still litigious. My publishers asked me to remove swathes of the more obvious accusatory passages – and as a result, he seems to get an easier ride than other clear-cut cases (Floyd Landis, for example). I hope that you will understand this, and read, in your mind’s eye, the redacted passages that I was forced to remove.
Likewise, there is a celebratory tone to the accounts of British in the shape of Mark Cavendish and Bradley Wiggins (his pre-Sky 2009 4th place gets a full account) which I find at odds with how I feel now. But, back then, the GB story was in its very early infancy, and the waves of success were still to break. Team Sky was not the winning machine it would become and was still untainted by jiffy bags and their mysterious contents. This book predates much of the doubt, as well as the dominance.
But the book is as much about the madness of the event as it is about the riders of any particular age. And this sense of the absurd remains unchanged and unchanging. It is a long love letter, really, to the greatest race in the world.
If it doesn’t happen this year, I will be a bit broken. And I will not be alone.
My thanks go to Yellow Jersey Press who have allowed the audiobook rights to revert to me, so that I can publish and distribute the story in the hope that it fills an empty hour or two. There will be many of them. Let’s all meet again when this passes and the flag drops once more.
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