The Eagle of Toledo: The Life and Times of Federico Bahamontes

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Aurum Press, Jun 21, 2012 - Sports & Recreation - 280 pages

Federico Martí n 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.


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Authors Note
The Reference Point
Nunca Ha Sido Niño He Never Was A Child
The MelonThief 3 CyclingsMostFamousIce Cream 4 The Gypsy Rider 5 Pointingthe Finger 6 Loroño v Bahamontes A Knife in the Table
The Dangers of GoFast
That Man From Toledo
The Bullfighter on Two Wheels
Goodbye to the Vuelta
Exile 12 A Pirate With a Pair of Pliers
The Masterand the Apprentice 14 Into theBushes 15 La Vuelta aToledo
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About the author (2012)

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. Currently the cycling correspondent for the Independent, and the Spanish correspondent for the Independent on Sunday, he has also written for leading British cycling publications Cycling Weekly and Cycle Sport.

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