This leaped out at me my whilst browsing the shelves of one of my favourite bookstores in the world which strangely happens to be in the small border town of Oswestry. It's called Booka and the atmosphere, display, selection and cakes are amazing.
"Inside the Peloton" is a great read and I can't say I knew too much about Nicolas before hand but had noticed his results occasionally when drawn to that surname in reports and result sheets. The start of the book is a pretty good biography of his growing up, of being Stephen's son, turning to cycling and his progression in to the professional ranks. The remaining two thirds is a collection of the Grand Tour diaries he had written and for Irish newspapers except here he has taken the time to expand some entries and fill in the gaps between the Tours with stories from other races or aspects of his life. I actually really like the race reports, sure they explain the basics for non-cyclists but we have to be used to that by now.
Nicolas does enable us to see and maybe feel what life is like for a developing rider in the peloton, from the racing action to the day to day activities of travel, catching up with friends and dealing with family illness and such. When reading of his experiences at junior events and as a first year pro he often refers to competition with riders such as Boassen-Hagen and Pauwels and it pointed out the changing of the guard in the pro-ranks. We really are seeing a new generation of riders, where maybe new fans of the sport won't have heard of Ullrich or Indurain or even Armstrong. I hope Nicolas can make the most of the potential that others see in him...
"If he can get into the Top 5 at the Tour, the potential is there to aim even higher in years to come. He can start thinking about a podium place and at this point that is a distinct possibility. I think he has the ability to be a very strong one-day classic rider but at the moment he is focussed on preparing for the Tour De France. We haven't seen the best of him yet." - Sean Kelly
I have been avoiding any cycling biography written by the 'youngsters', I mean aren't you meant to write your bio after your career after your success and struggles, sorry Mark Cavendish I am going to wait until Volume 4 of your bio. The cycling biography just seems a bit of a hip thing to do right now. Unlike a celebration of success this is primarily a collection of existing reports and the story of a developing rider and as such deserves to be an exception to the rule.
In 2012 I will be gunning for Nicolas especially in Rouleur Derby.