We Were All Gods
De Tour van 1948
The Tour de France of 1948
Cycling fan Benjo Maso is an expert on bicycle racing and 3 writes about it with passion, but what makes him exceptional is his collaboration with the sociologist Maso. The latter seeks the significance of cycle racing in more than merely the sporting show, and this is the source of many fascinating stories.
While working on The Sweat of the Gods, an enthralling overview of a century of cycle racing, Maso discovered a unique historical moment that he immediately recognised as the impulse for a book: the Tour de France of 1948. It was a Tour that started out in historical times and ended on the brink of the modern era: for the very first time, a television camera was waiting at the finishing line in Paris, a symbol of a future in which everything would change, even the Tour de France. It was a Tour in which the Italian Gino Bartali, by winning, averted civil war in his fatherland. Accordingly, it became a Tour that made history with news that far exceeded the scope of the sports pages.
We Were All Gods is a captivating book. Maso has produced a cycle racing report as well as a reflection of the times in chauvinistic, postwar Europe. It is also a tribute to the participants who are rewarded for their achievements with narratives that surpass all imagination.
Where are they now, radio reporters who, arriving later than the cyclists, concoct fictitious reports of the finish? Where are the team leaders who fall asleep at the start and never see their riders during the entire day? How many riders are still swaying across the roads, having accepted bottles of wine to quench their thirst?
Each chapter of the book outlines the adventure of a different stage, ridden more than half a century ago, which is exciting from the outset right to the finishing line. Maso follows the sensational course of the Tour of 1948 as a reporter with an inexhaustible knowledge of his subject matter, acquired by means of interviews with participants and witnesses, and accumulated via intensive research in countless newspaper archives.
The more than 300 pages of anecdotes on the riders’ habits, their mutual rivalries, the backbiting, the material, the food, and the medical care ensure than the reader completes the Tour of ’48 as an initiate; it is extremely doubtful whether or not the present-day Tour could make him just as happy!