1923: The Mystery of Lot 212 and a Tour de France Obsession (Hardcover)
The story of an obsession. When cycling commentator Ned Boulting bought a length of Pathé news film featuring a stage of the Tour de France from 1923 he set about learning everything he could about it - taking him on an intriguing journey that encompasses travelogue, history and detective story.
In the autumn of 2020 Ned Boulting (ITV head cycling commentator and Tour de France obsessive) bought a length of Pathé news film from a London auction house. All he knew was it was film from the Tour de France, a long time ago. Once restored it became clear it was a short sequence of shots from stage 4 of the 1923 Tour de France. No longer than 2.5 minutes long, it featured half a dozen sequences, including a lone rider crossing a bridge.
Ned set about learning everything he could about the sequence – studying each frame, face and building – until he had squeezed the meaning from it. It sets him off in fascinating directions, encompassing travelogue, history, mystery story – to explain, to go deeper into this moment in time, captured on his little film.
Join him as he explores the history of cycling and France just five years after WWI – meeting characters like Henri Pélissier, who won the Tour that year but who would within the decade be shot dead by his wife’s lover. And Theophile Beeckman – the lone rider on the bridge.
“[a] fascinating and often touching book… Wonderful” —The Times
“An absorbing mix of historical sleuthing and travel writing” —The Telegraph
“Spellbinding” —Daily Mail
“A captivating journey of discovery into a lost world. A real joy to read.” —Tom McTague
“Witty, discursive, and tons of fun, Ned Boulting has the Tour de France under his skin, and you will too by the time you've read this” —Al Murray, comedian, author and presenter of history podcast, We Have Ways of Making You Talk
“Ned's captivating book explores one man's obsession with this magnificent event and casts an intriguing light on a tiny fragment of a race long gone by” —Alexei Sayle
“Ned has created a rich tapestry from the finest of threads ... I felt transported back with him to the very origins of bike racing and the world that created it” —David Millar
“one of the most intelligent sporting books i have come across…the writing is compulsive, eloquently conveying the twists and turns of the story as it unfolds…excellent” —thewashingmachinepost
“There has never been a cycling book quite like this one. A scrap of newsreel film, a century old and two and a half minutes long, sweeps Ned Boulting back not just into the world of a forgotten hero of the Tour de France but into the forces that shaped that world: a collision of sport, war, family and destiny. And as he searches for the tiniest clues among the faded celluloid shadows, he carries us along with him, making us his companions on a remarkable mission of rediscovery” —Richard Williams, music and sports journalist
“Delightful” —Dara Ó Briain, Twitter
“utterly captivating…an amazing concept and a truly fascinating adventure into cycling, history and people… a truly addictive read.” —Cyclist
“Beginning with a fragment of a century-old race, Ned has written a 'biography of the unknown rider'. And in honouring him he's told us more about bike racing, the Tour and about Europe in the years between the wars than we'd ever have learned from a book about a star” —Michael Hutchinson, racing cyclist and writer
“This is a wonderful piece of writing that transcends sport.” —New European
“A fascinating and often touching book” —Times Literary Supplement
“Witty, discursive, and tons of fun, Ned Boulting has the Tour De France under his skin, and you will too by the time you read this” —Al Murray
"An engaging melange of sports writing, history, travelogue and detective story... Fascinating" —Waterstones
"An exceptional book" —Pez Cycling News