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The remarkable biography of a 1948 Olympic cycling champion who became a swashbuckling fortune-hunter in Columbia

Restlessly vital and possessed of great physical strength, José Beyaert lived many lives. During the Second World War, he boxed and trafficked arms for the Resistance on his bicycle. After it, he became an international cyclist. In 1948, a mile from the end of the Olympic road race around Windsor Park, he broke away alone to take the gold medal and started an adventure that would last the rest of his life.

A Tour de France rider in the sport’s golden age, José was invited to open a new velodrome in Colombia, South America. He travelled, intending to stay a month. Instead, driven by his thirst for adventure, he stayed for fifty years, becoming by turns athlete, coach, businessman, emerald-trader, logger, smuggler, perhaps even hired killer.

Matt Rendell, who knew José Beyaert and met many of his family, friends and associates, tells the fascinating story of an almost-forgotten sporting hero who, incapable of living to other people’s rules, lived his many lives on his own terms.


Separating myth from reality . . . and bringing it together with the sure-handedness we've come to expect is award-winning author Matt Rendell

The Bookseller

A riveting tale that would be unbelievable were it not for [Rendell's] impeccable research

Independent on Sunday

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Formats & editions

  • Paperback


    June 15, 2011

    Mainstream Publishing

    352 pages

    RRP $19.99

    Online retailers

    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Dymocks
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • The Nile
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook


    April 1, 2011

    Mainstream Digital

    352 pages

    Online retailers

    • iBooks
    • Amazon Kindle
    • Booktopia
    • eBooks
    • Google Play
    • Kobo

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

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