Another book turned up for my July Birthday…”Magic Spanner – The world of cycling according to Carlton Kirby”.

Carlton Kirby has been a cycling commentator for nearly 30 years. He works for Eurosport and has commentated on the Tour de France for as long as I can remember…!

He is known as a ‘bit of a talker’… he will talk about anything… and from all accounts,… he doesn’t stop…

Some 220 pages of entertaining stories of behind the scenes at the Tour de France and other ‘big’ races in the professional calendar.

Eurosport covers (nearly) all the race stages, from start to finish… and some of the stages are 5 hours long… Bad enough when you are racing for 5 hours… but talking for 5 hours about a race, where not very much is happening takes a special kind of person.

All the stories are humorously told, many about happenings to himself and his co-presenter Sean Kelly.

There is a chapter on some of the ‘stars of the pro cycling circuit – Chris Froome, Bradley Wiggins, Mark Cavendish etc and what they are like to interview…

The Magic Spanner is a phrase coined by Carlton Kirby to describe a mechanic giving a rider w a little bit of extra help, which is not really allowed under the rules but is all part of the game….

Chapters on Money and on Cheating, shed a light on what goes on behind the scenes… How the Teams are paid and how drugs have been an endemic part of the sport for a long time… And more especially the efforts to stamp them out.

With plenty of description of the unseen characters and places… being on tour is a separate world, which at times does not resemble the real world.

A well-written, enjoyable book that deserves its space on the bookshelf of any cycling fan.

MAGIC SPANNER: The action of a mechanic to influence the recovery pace of a rider by way of mimicking a mechanical assist. Completed while hanging from a moving vehicle – thereby propelling the cyclist, at a pace via automotive assistance, to regain time lost due to a raving incident.

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