Matt Rendell Interview

News & Results

10/1/2004| 0 comments
by Ian Melvin
Matt Rendell.
Matt Rendell.

Matt Rendell Interview

Ian talks to Matt about his book A Significant Other - Riding the Centenary Tour de France with Lance Armstrong.

?Let?s do it.??

 

I wondered why Victor Hugo was Matt?s choice of rider to work with.  After a period within the industry, I was sure that he would have had numerous contacts with more widely recognized riders.   ?Victor Hugo is someone I?d wanted to write about for a long time.  I was already interested in Colombian cycling for a number of reasons, not least, initially because I had found so much friendship and warmth towards me.?   Rendell continued to explain that he believed that the success of Colombian cycling to be very much an anomaly and therefore, a test case for global sport.  ?After all, does sport belong to the athletes and communities that invest their resources, however meager, in producing them, or does it belong to the Credit Card companies and Soft Drink manufacturers that merely seek to associate themselves with the performance of remarkable athletes?  Sport is only partly meritocracy.  Cycling, like other sports, tends to want to benefit from the best manpower available while privileging athletes of the same nationality as the team sponsors ?. these are the sorts of issues I?m interested in personally and professionally, and writing about Colombian cycling in ?Kings of the Mountains? and about Victor Hugo in ?A Significant Other? has allowed me to explore some of them.?

 

In hindsight, the selection of Victor Hugo was quite inspirational. Instead of his expected build up to the Tour and the Prologue Time Trial in
Paris
, the Colombian experienced one drama after another and as Rendell explained, shortly before the race began, he feared that US Postal would be lining up without the former Giro stage winner.  ?Victor Hugo was held up at gunpoint by thugs who stole his papers and left him with no passport or racing license; he was unable to get a Spanish visa to return to his home, car and brother in Spain ­- utterly unreasonable on the part of the Spanish authorities.  Because of his visa problems he missed the Tour of Belgium, which was to have been his qualifying ride for the team, so he came within a hair?s breadth of missing the Tour altogether.  He finally started the Tour on a French tourist visa, in flagrant violation of its terms and conditions; and then he became the first Colombian to ever wear the yellow jersey.?

 

On paper, the idea of a Tour diary is a fascinating proposition and I know that I for always keen to gain an insight into that magical world of the professional peloton.  ?The cycling shelves are full of dreadful cut and paste histories of the Tour that don?t contain one original interview -­ despite the hundreds of ex-Tour riders out there - and should never have been published.  I wanted to position myself as far from that genre as possible by allowing Victor Hugo to portray a domestique?s life in his own words, and then to provide the sort of historical, sociological, technical, but also philosophical context that athletes can hardly be expected to describe insightfully; on

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