The man lying awake in the dark hotel room was named Romain Thomas Mariani and he was the world’s sixty-third-best road racing cyclist.

Later today he had to ride one hundred and ninety-six kilometres and beat Hans Banquo, Herr Wunderschön, Hansi the Conqueror, the cyclist ranked sixty-two places above him, by one minute and fifty-one seconds.

If he did that, two tall beautiful women in short dresses and high heels would kiss his gaunt cheeks and then help him into a silver jersey, a crowd would clap, and he would be the winner of L’Essence du Tour, the last and hardest one-week stage race in the professional cycling calendar. He would be ranked the world’s twelfth-best rider, and for the first time in a number of years, be truly happy.

It looks like twenty-seven-year old Eastern European pro Romain Mariani is finally about to become the rider he always knew he could be.

Titles, money, fame – they’re all right there.

Then life comes apart.

Determined to put it back together, Mariani, haunted by spectres from the past and driven by his own dark needs and obsessions, enters a shadowy world that brings into question everything he knows about himself and his sport.

With a cast list including a drug-dealing doctor with a Jesus complex and plastic covers on his sofas, a tribe of forest people who run a bizarre black market, and Golgotha, a mythical omnivorous blue-eyed hog, Consumed is a gothic-flavoured novel about the joy and suffering of cycling, insatiable appetites and how quickly dreams can become nightmares.

‘A great read, blending everyday myths of the peloton with bidons of black humour, witty characterisation and quirky observation.’

Blazin’ Saddles, Eurosport blogger

‘More twists and turns than the ascent of Alpe D’Huez as (the story) crosses from sport into dark fantasy and horror.’

The Inner Ring