Am I on track?

Am I on track?

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Book Review: "One Way Road" by Robbie McEwen

Let's get this out of the way early - I am a huge Robbie McEwen fan.  I have loved watching him race over his long professional career, especially his ability to win a sprint without the benefit of a well-drilled leadout train.  With this in mind, I couldn't wait to get my hands on his recent autobiography "One Way Road".

The book starts off with what I consider to be one of Robbie's greatest ever wins - Stage 1 of the 2007 Tour de France, from London to Canterbury.  After crashing with around 20km to go, and then losing contact with the peloton, McEwen's team drag him back to the back of the race with a few kilometres to go.  He then manages to work his way through the speeding race pack, and snatch the stage win at the last moment with a powerful sprint.

I vividly remember lying on my couch just after midnight, watching this stage. I was gobsmacked at Robbie's ability to win this stage after all seemed lost. So starting the book with this epic tale was a great start for me.

The book goes on to talk about many aspects of McEwen's life - from his early childhood growing up on the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia, through to training with the AIS teams in his late teens, to trying hard to breakthrough on the tough European professional cycling scene.  I won't go into detail about these stories, as they are brilliantly told in this book.

One thing there is an abundance of in the book, is Robbie telling us all what a terrific racer he is! Multiple times, he points out how he has beaten all the great sprinters of the modern era.  I have read some criticism of this aspect of the book - but I take something different away from it.  I think it gives an insight into the 'winning mindset' a great sprinter has to have.  It is clear that Robbie truly believed that he was the best sprinter on the road, and he could win every time he raced.  Maybe this incredible self-belief is what it takes to turn you from a 'handy sprinter' to a three-time Tour de France green jersey winner...

I also really enjoyed some of the insights McEwen gives into particular cyclists (such as Cadel Evans), and how he handled himself in the peloton.  He delivers a very frank and refreshingly honest assessment of some riders, but you leave with the impression that he is being very fair and without a nasty 'agenda' - there are no 'sensationalist' perspectives in here that are designed to create controversy and sell more books.

Clearly, I love this book.  If you are a cycling fan, then its a definite must-read.  If you are a more casual observer of the cycling world, or enjoy a good autobiography, then I think you'll also find a lot to like about this book as well.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

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