We’ve been trawling eBay again, and have happened upon these three pre-Tour de France specials of the world’s best cycling magazine, Procycling, which you might be missing from your collection, or which might just be an enjoyable read to remind yourself about recent Tours past.
It had been looking touch-and-go for a while, but the 2020 edition of the Tour is upon us, albeit a little postponed, starting this Saturday – August 29 – and running until September 20, two months later than the start of its originally planned three-week calendar slot.
Every year, the staff of Procycling deftly assembles the latest interviews, news and authoritative views ahead of the Tour, producing arguably the best issue of the year as excitement about the race reaches fever pitch and dreams of sun-drenched French holidays reach their zenith.
The 2013 edition of the Tour feels like a while ago now – a year after Team Sky’s Bradley Wiggins made history as the first British winner of La Grande Boucle. ‘Wiggo’ rightly takes centre-stage on the cover of that year’s pre-Tour magazine, alongside Sky teammate and eventual winner Chris Froome, as well as two-time winner Alberto Contador – who would take fourth place in Paris.
Wiggins, of course, never got to that year’s Tour, quitting the Giro d’Italia midway through with a chest infection, with a knee injury then scuppering his preparation, leaving the way clear for Froome, who’d threatened to win the 2012 Tour and was then well and truly freed up to do so in 2013.
Also featuring on the cover are sprinters Peter Sagan and Mark Cavendish who – big up yerself, Procycling – finished first and second, respectively, in that year’s green jersey competition, with Sagan winning one stage and Cavendish taking two.
The Procycling magazine from two years later for the 2015 Tour features defending champion Vincenzo Nibali – who remains the only rider to have broken the otherwise Team Sky/Team Ineos stranglehold on the Tour between 2012 and 2019 by virtue of the Italian winning the 2014 race. He’s flanked by Froome, who came back from a crash the previous year to win his second of what now stands at four Tours, Contador – who faded to fifth overall – and Nairo Quintana, who equalled his second place from 2013, which remains his best Tour finish, and which is something the Colombian intends to change in 2020.
By that summer of 2015, Wiggins had already stepped down from WorldTour-level outfit Team Sky – Paris-Roubaix was his last race for them – in order to lead his own Continental-level squad, Team Wiggins, and he eventually retired at the end of 2016.
The 2018 Tour de France turned up somewhat of a surprise when Geraint Thomas usurped his Team Sky leader Froome to win the race. A dominant display in the mountains saw the Welshman out-climb everybody, and although he would have been unlikely to have featured as one of the favourites on the cover of Procycling’s pre-Tour issue that year, the magazine seemingly sought to mitigate any ‘curse’ or ‘off the money’ photo-led prediction by plumping for this fantastic illustration of a Tour peloton riding through the best of what France has to offer.
It also asked – more discreetly, via its cover lines – whether Froome would be able to win a fifth Tour, and featured stories on French favourite Romain Bardet, a look at whether Movistar were doing the right thing by taking three leaders in the shape of Quintana, Alejandro Valverde and Mikel Landa, plus pieces on Richie Porte, Warren Barguil, Sagan and Mark Cavendish.
These 2013, 2015 and 2018 editions of Procycling range in price from a relatively pricey $22.95 (£17.50) to a great value $7.90 (£5.99) to a very reasonable $13.99 (£10.50), respectively.
Remember, you can always get hold of the current Tour de France edition of Procycling here – or future issues with a digital subscription here. And eBay’s your best bet for discovering past issues – and you may even find some from back in the magazine’s year of inception, 1999.
We’re constantly on the lookout for unique and rare cycling relics on eBay. If you have any suggestions or leads, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org with ‘eBay Finds’ in the subject line.