“Welcome to the true life of a tour cyclist,” reads the blurb of Domestique, the interesting and revealing autobiography by former Mapei, Liquigas and Lotto rider and current Garmin DS Charly Wegelius.
We’re more accustomed to reading the life stories of the sport’s winners and big-name riders, yet the winlessness of Wegelius’s professional career is this 300-page book’s USP.
He recalls being told just seven days before the 2002 Vuelta how he was going to ride his first Grand Tour, despite being injured from a crash. Then there’s the difficulty in finding teams (“If Mapei had been DHL, De Nardi was the Post Office,” he writes about dropping down a division after the former team folded), incompetent managers and the difficulty of dealing with team leaders (Cadel Evans is singled out as particularly difficult).
Often funny and at times brutally honest, the book charts Wegelius’s career from an enthusiastic youngster who was one of cycling’s hot properties to the man whose obsessive-compulsive behaviour meant he travelled to races with duct tape to ensure he could remove any trace of light from ?hotel rooms.
The book arguably gives you the most accurate description of what being a highly-regarded domestique in the modern peloton is really like. And, as its working title suggested, “It’s not a f***ing fairytale.”