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Review: Cadel Evans, Close to Flying

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Cadel Evans is a legend. He is Australia’s greatest modern-day cyclist and possibly our greatest cyclist ever. His success has come on both mountain bikes and road bikes. He has worked extremely hard to extract the best from himself and he has done that in a country that does not have the European cycling heritage.

Unfortunately, the book “Cadel Evans Close to Flying” does not do Cadel’s story justice.

This is a book that is very hard to read. The prose is inconsistent and the book does not flow. Multiple grammatical errors, typographical errors and a structure that is worse than loose.
Cadel is not the author, although he collaborated and extended quotes from Cadel are included in the book. If Cadel was the author I’d be more forgiving. The author is Rob Arnold, the publisher of RIDE Cycling Review magazine and a long-time cycling journalist. My guess is that Arnold did not employ an editor in producing the book.

It is a lost opportunity as Cadel does have a wonderful story to tell. Like many young kids he discovered cycling as a means to get around – in his case the means to get around his remote NT homeland. He kept riding as he grew up and stumbled into mountain bike racing just as that sport was starting to gain popularity in Australia. He was a successful junior who competed against adults early. He represented Australia as a mountain biker in the Olympic Games and then took on road racing. In that discipline his results have been consistent over many years – which is something that separates him from many of the drug-fueled competitors he has faced. In 2009 he won the World Road Racing title, but his two second placings in the 2007 and 2008 Tours de France are probably his best-known results.
The book covers the various aspects of Cadel’s life in a haphazard fashion. It talks in the second person about Cadel and his life. Accordingly it is missing anecdotes and the personal insights that come from first person autobiographies. If you want to know what Cadel thinks you’re not going to find it in this volume.

My hope is that Cadel has more success, especially in Le Tour with his knew BMC team. With further success the Cadel story will grow – and hopefully another writer, maybe even Cadel and a ghost-writer, will rewrite the story in a style that does justice to this true Australian champion.

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