Image of The Eagle of Toledo

Published: 21 June 2012
Sport
Hardback
ISBN: 9781845137007
RRP: £16.99

The Eagle of Toledo

The Life and Times of Federico Bahamontes – The Tour’s Greatest Climber

Alasdair Fotheringham

Federico Martín Bahamontes, the Eagle of Toledo, is rated by many as the greatest climber in cycling history. The first Spaniard to win the Tour de France and a six-time champion of the race’s gruelling King of the Mountains classification, he became a national hero in a Spain struggling to rebuild after the devastation and atrocities of the Civil War. Indeed, his success owed much to the conflict.

When the Nationalist rebellion of General Franco finally overran the democratically elected Republic in 1939, vast swathes of the country were left impoverished and desperate. On the verge of starvation, the young Bahamontes took to cycling as a means of running black market goods, before realising that sport offered a more lucrative future. An impressive amateur career followed, leading to his Tour debut in 1954, when he won the mountains competition on his first attempt.

Success and a charismatic, but temperamental, racing style brought him fame at home and abroad – as well as controversy. Today, despite his appropriation by the Franco regime, he remains the godfather of Spanish cycling and a sporting eccentric of phenomenal will power. He is also one of the few living witnesses to cycling’s golden age and – as Alasdair Fotheringham discovered when interviewing him for this compelling biography – he’s more than ready to tell the tale.

Alasdair Fotheringham

Image of Alasdair Fotheringham

Alasdair Fotheringham is a freelance journalist based in Spain. He has covered seventeen Tours de France and fifteen Tours of Spain, as well as numerous other major races. He first interviewed Bahamontes in 1993....

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Reviews

'Splendid … Fotheringham’s got the real story behind the myth'

 

Cycle Sport, Christmas Reading List

'A terrific tale... Accounts of cycle racing’s early years invariably contain suffering on a scale unimaginable to the modern professional, but post-Civil War Spain was another level altogether. The maverick climber comes across as a man difficult to like but, once you know the background, impossible not to admire'

Rouleur

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'A fascinating insight into a charismatic, temperamental star of the sport'

SPORT

'Fotheringham writes beautifully... His book is packed with stories of doping, disputes, dodgy deals and heroic rides, and it depicts a world which is light years away from the highly controlled sport cycling has become'

Times Literary Supplement

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