Smeets is always producing new books. This time he looks back on thirty years of Tour de France. This year is the last time he is reporting from the Tour, a good moment to look back over his shoulder and see what has happened in 30 years as a journalist in the biggest sporting event every summer.
Luckily, he does not choose for the yearly approach. I do not like reading books that just sum up what happened over a period. They are good to put on the shelves, have a flip through and then pick up again 12 years later when you try to find an answer to a trivia question. This book is nothing like that. He describes the differences between the media circus from now in comparison to the first time he went, early seventies. He dedicates a whole chapter to Jean Nelissen, the best cycling journalist this country has ever seen, a walking encyclopaedia, a respected colleague therefore. He also describes the different styles of the journalists from other countries. Every year again they sit on the press stand near the finish line, like chickens in a breeding factory, reporting about the madness that is called the Tour. His point of view on doping gets fairly clear. As a journalist, you've got to talk about it, but if you're not 100% sure, it is easier to not say anything. So, it is clear that he knows much more than he will ever talk about, but can't prove it all, therefore prefers to stay out of trouble. Trouble that was plenty a couple of years ago with soigneurs caught with all kind of forbidden products, cyclists getting arrested, team managers ending up in court. But whatever happens, the Tour goes on. That could be the simple conclusion of this book. Emotionally he talks about Casartelli's death, about Armstrong's disease. Angrily he recalls incidents where sportsmen lied in his face, just because they were in front of a camera. Ten minutes earlier, they had told him the truth, now the truth seemed to be completely different. The good things in life get mentioned a few times throughout the book, we know he is no saint, plenty of booze and women around.
His style really suits the reader, it is difficult to put the book down, and his inside information make it a book worth reading. And whatever happens, even should he not be there anymore next year, as announced, the Tour de France will go on.