《Tom Simpson: Bird On The Wire》

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Tom Simpson: Bird On The Wire
作者:Andy McGrath

英國單車天王費路美早前繼環法、環西班牙賽後,再拿下環意賽冠軍,10個月內包辦車壇三大錦標,風頭一時無兩。下月,新一屆環法單車賽戰幔揭開。費路美能否衛冕,自是車迷關注焦點。

不過在風光背後,費路美亦傳出了藥檢不及格的新聞,不免令人有諸般揣測。熟悉職業單車歷史的,可能還會想起費路美的前輩——半世紀前英年早逝的英國單車名將辛普森(Tom Simpson)。

畢竟是上世紀60年代的車手,辛普森在華人世界不算知名,維基百科甚至連他的中文頁面也沒有。然而,他在英國體育界卻是名字響噹噹,皆因他是首個在環法單車賽穿起黃色戰衣的英國車手。可惜天不假年,這位國家英雄1967年環法賽中有傳因用藥過度而戰死沙場,得年29歲。肇事的風禿山,自此留下了一座紀念碑。

去年是辛普森逝世50周年。單車服裝公司Rapha出版了辛普森傳,名為Bird on the Wire。此書出版後廣受好評,最終甚至奪得體育書籍最高榮譽的「威廉希爾年度體育好書」獎。

此書之好,在兩方面。第一,其印刷、裝幀均極為精美,是本典型的「咖啡桌書籍」,完全使讀者體會到翻閱紙質書的優美質感;第二,此書插圖極豐,不少車迷讀者都說書中圖片十分珍貴,使人對辛普森的一生有更立體的認知。
Tom Simpson: Bird On The Wire
Author: Andy McGrath

Following his championship victories at the Tour de France and Vuelta a España, British star road racing cyclist Christopher Froome won the Giro d’Italia again. Having scooped up three major titles in the cycling world in just 10 months, Froome is receiving lots of media attention. This year’s Tour de France will kick off next month and cycling fans are eager to see whether or not Froome can defend his crown.

Behind the glamour, however, reports of Froome failing drug tests are triggering speculation. This might remind those who are familiar with professional cycling history of Tom Simpson – a renowned British cyclist who died young half a century ago.

Simpson was a cyclist in the 1960s and not well-known among Chinese people; his Wikipedia page is not even available in Chinese. Nonetheless, his name is extremely notable in the British sporting world as he was the first British cyclist ever to wear the yellow jersey at the Tour de France. Unfortunately, this national hero died in 1967 during the Tour de France at the age of 29. A drug overdose was the rumoured cause. A monument has since been erected at Mont Ventoux, the site where he lost his life.

Last year was the 50th anniversary of Simpson’s death. To mark his passing, Rapha, a cycling clothing brand, published a biography of Simpson titled Bird on the Wire. It has received widespread positive reviews and even won the highest honour for sports books – The William Hill Sports Book of the Year award.

This book’s strengths are twofold. First, its printing and binding are exquisite, making it a typical coffee table book providing readers with the beautiful sensation of turning book paper pages. Secondly, the book contains many rare photos that cycling fans will love and that help to provide a more concrete account of Simpson’s life.

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