REVIEW: The Road Book 2021



174 Races

57 Team Profiles

12 Essays

517 Stages


The Road Book 2021: Fourth Edition of Cycling’s Bible Now Available

  • Nearly 900 pages packed with race reports, statistics, team profiles, infographics, trivia, and photography from the 2021 season

  • Exclusive first-person accounts from cycling’s biggest stars, including Tour de France and Paris-Roubaix winners Tadej Pogacar and Lizzie Deignan

  • Exclusive contributions from the cream of cycling writers and journalists

  • The Road Book is a must-have for any pro cycling enthusiast and is available to purchase for £50 exclusively through www.theroadbook.co.uk

 

2021 saw another spectacular year of professional cycling. It carried on with the next generation of riders who are now already elevated to stardom, and some are even considered to be amongst the best of all time.


2019 saw the beginning of the end for the old guard. Young (and not so young) guns started to show their talent and promise, while some of the established leaders faltered and waned.


2020 exploded in the midst of a full-on pandemic. Races were cancelled, postponed and the calendar looked more like a Heston Blumenthal dinner menu than a traditional three-course meal. The spoils went to the daring and the prepared. Riders who took on the challenge with an open and naïve mind were able to get their rewards, while the traditionalists were caught out by the lack of routine and established setup of racing to train, prolonged tapering and hitting a specific target in full form. Riders like van der Poel, Alaphilippe, Roglič, Pogačar, Evenepoel, stormed the scene and ripped off every script. They raced... always to win. And win they did. In the women's, things went rather differently. Their severely reduced calendar saw experienced cyclists get the better of the situation, allowing for targeting and preparing for the few races available.

But 2021...

...2021 was the graduation year for the new generation, with an addition of a few more (Pidcock, Hayter, etc). But it was also a revival year for leaders who'd lost their winning ways (Valgren, Colbrelli), and the welcome comeback of Fabio Jakobsen from the horrific injuries sustained in 2020. Then the was the drama-filled fairytale of Mark Cavendish, who not only got a contract with one of the best teams but also started to win again, then equalled Merckx's record of stage wins at the Tour de France while bagging the green jersey.



Some domestiques were given the chance to go for glory and the likes of Caruso very nearly conquered the Giro d'Italia after stepping in for injured Landa, had it not been for the raw talent of a stubborn Egan Bernal. Pogačar won the Tour, again, aged 22 and his compatriot Roglič won his 3rd Vuelta a España. Pogačar also managed to win not one but two of the monuments (Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Il Lombardia). An epic (read: wet) Paris-Roubaix saw a mud-covered Colbrelli take his biggest win to date. Alaphilippe doubled up on the rainbow jersey, while Carapaz surprised at the Olympics with a timely and successful attack. Let's not forget van der Poels' watts explosion on the steep climb to Siena at Strade Bianche or the one-mm win by Van Aert over Pidcock at Amstel Gold and so many memorable moments.


Anna van der Breggen raced into the sunset but not without first taking her record seventh title at Flèche Wallonne while wearing the rainbow jersey and then helping a supreme Vollering maturing into a force to be reckoned with, before becoming her DS in 2022. Van Vleuten's reign continued with a steady stream of wins (Flanders, San Sebastian, Norway, Madrid and Olympic Time Trials) but also some upsets (missing the rider ahead at the Olympics and the crash at Paris-Roubaix). Then the was the non-professional Austrian rider Anna Kiesenhofer who surprised everybody, even herself, by riding the longest ever successful breakaway to win the Olympic title. We had the first edition of the women's Paris-Roubaix, won by escape artist Liz Deignan, who proved to be uncatchable for 80km. Young Elisa Balsamo timed her sprint to perfection while keeping at bay the undisputed Queen of cycling, Marianne Vos, to win her first World title.



All this and more are found and treasured in the latest edition of The Road Book. It's all there in numbers, data, statistics, all fashioned in an inimitable style. Clear, comprehensive and pleasing to the eye. Past and present performances, first-class photography, obituaries, interviews, all contribute to bringing an amazing year of professional cycling alive. There's always something that jogs your memory, something surprising or that was missed in the ensuing mayhem of the racing calendar.


The cherry on the cake, though, are the contributions of riders and commentators. The post-win descriptions from the mouths of the winners themselves are especially valuable. Too often, the comments given right after a win are rushed, confused and repetitive as they are taken from a pool of agencies and circulated around. Here we have the protagonists (Pogačar, Deignan, Storey, Stuyven) telling their stories with a clear mind, immersing the readers into the moments and the emotions the riders felt at the time, often missed by cameras, fans and commentators.



The book itself is stunning and if you have past editions, it builds into a nifty collection, but the 2021 edition is just as invaluable as a stand-alone copy too. One for book worms as well as cycling lovers.

The team of contributors is, as always, top-notch and impeccable. Most definitely a 10/10.