By Bruce Ewert — The latest book by champion sprinter Mark Cavendish picks up after his first book. Starting with a thrilling prologue describing winning the World Championship in Copenhagen in 2011. The intensity of this event comes through as he writes of the incredible strength of Wiggo burying himself on the front for a huge, long pull in the final kilometers. Of knowing who his main rivals were, and watching and measuring them. Feeling the wind in coming from the right and knowing they would drift left near the finish, leaving room for him on the right. Finishing first, thinking “I am the World Champion.”
From that high point Cav delves into the start of a season that would be nearly lost due to not taking care of a dental issue in a timely manner. This led to being sick before the classics, losing training time, and playing catch-up the whole year. Even though I follow cycling pretty closely, I never knew how much Cav had struggled in 2010. Then he unwisely made some critical comments about his teammate and fellow sprinter Andre Greipel to a reporter from the British newspaper “The Guardian”, which ended up causing a stir and some bad blood between Cav and Greipel and HTC team owner Bob Stapleton.
The book follows Cav’s path with teams HTC, Sky and QuickStep. He also details the Olympics in London, where he and David Millar, Brad Wiggins,Chris Froome, and Ian Stannard attempted to bring the gold medal home. Unfortunately their goal went unmet as break stayed away, enabling Alexander Vinokourov to win.
He shows his frustrations as well, such as riding the Tour with Sky when Brad Wiggins was contending for the yellow jersey. Especially after he was left by Sean Yates after a flat, not even getting a tow back up to the peloton in a stage that would end in a sprint. This 2012 Tour was the one when Froome was accused of accelerating away from his leader Brad Wiggins, a show of power that would presage Froome’s dominance in future Tours.
And then there is the chapter on doping in cycling, on how he was able to win clean coming out of the British cycling program.The disappointment he felt when Lance admitted to doping on Oprah, and of a time when he watched Lance, once the patron of the peloton, pull over for a nature break in the Giro and the peloton never even slowed down for him. He wasn’t that guy anymore.
All in all, another good read from the inside of the peloton. Worth the read when the weather gets grim, it will motivate to get out there and turn the pedals in anger.
At Speed: My Life in the Fast Lane
Paperback with color photo section | 6″ x 9″, 288 pp., $18.95, 9781937715045