The Reading List

Your 2017 cycling book guide

In this holiday period, we’re taking some time to take a closer look at some fantastic items for the gift giver in you: This week we are looking at 5 books from 2017: our must read list, must gift list, or whatever you want to call it. We’re really happy to be able to say we know all the five authors personally, and can attest to the care and dedication they’ve put into their works.  So without further ado:


“The Ascent”

by Barry Ryan

“Sean Kelly, Stephen Roche and the Rise of Irish Cycling’s Golden Generation” Well here’s the thing about Barry Ryan: he’s a wordsmith of severe talent thats been gracing Cyclingnews for many years with subtle quips, poetic lines, and more that often go unnoticed to the web reader.  We are so amped he’s published his first book, and although we are only a few chapters into it, our expectations have been met. A book that would appeal to a non cycling enthusiast: the prose and storytelling captivate even the most casual of cycling fan.

Amazon says:

“For most of the 20th century, professional cycling was dominated by riders from the continental strongholds of France, Italy, Belgium and Spain, but in the 1980s, two young men from Ireland rose from obscure beginnings to arrive at the very top of the sport: Sean Kelly and Stephen Roche.

Kelly was quiet, consistent and famously resilient the dominant classics rider of his era. Roche, by contrast, was a charismatic and mercurial presence, whose unruly talent would carry him to the Triple Crown in 1987 – victories at the Giro d’Italia, Tour de France and World Championships – a feat unmatched in the three decades since.

Today, they remain indelibly inscribed in the annals of cycling, feted by fans across the world who recall the deeds that secured their legacies. But beyond the bike lies the untold story of adjusting to the mores of the professional peloton, of influences shared and of friendships made and broken.

This is that story.


Tom Simpson: Bird on the Wire

by Andy McGrath

This book just won the 2017 William Hill’s Sports Book of the Year Award, the world’s longest-running prize for sports writing. A gorgeous hardback, beautifully designed, it features a forward by Bradley Wiggins, full colour, and rare images.

Rouleur says:

Tom Simpson is British cycling’s greatest icon. Fifty years after he conquered the continental sporting scene, he still captivates people around the world. After his dramatic death on Mont Ventoux during the 1967 Tour de France, amphetamines and alcohol were found in his system, a fact which often dwarfs his pioneering achievements. From a humble upbringing in a Nottinghamshire mining town, Simpson became the first Briton to win the elite men’s World Championships and to wear the Tour de France’s yellow jersey.


It’s available (although currently out of stock) on the Rouleur Webshop

Also available through Amazon


by Alasdair Fotheringham

Where can we start with Alasdair Fotheringham?  How about his years of pedigree: he’s been covering cycling, on the road at races, TDF etc since 1992. He’s published books on Bahamontes and  Ocana, two other legends in cycling, of Spanish roots.  Although Al is a Brit through and through, he’s resided in the south of Spain for over 20 years, and is our resident translator,  expert and musical guru for many days on the road.  When you read this book, you understand fully that this isn’t just a historical biography, written by research and accounts, it’s written by a man who was there, on the ground during this era. Through the words of many others that were there at that time as well, Fotheringham has put together the story of the man who speaks very little.

Miguel Indurain is Spain’s greatest cyclist of all time and one of the best Tour racers in history. He is the only bike rider to have won five successive Tours de France, as well as holding the title for the youngest ever race leader in the Tour of Spain. This is his story.

As the all-conquering hero of the 90s, Indurain steadfastly refused to be overwhelmed by fame; remaining humble, shy and true to his country roots. Along with his superhuman calmness, iron will-power and superb bike handling skills, he was often described as a machine. Yet 1996 saw Indurain, the Tour’s greatest ever champion, spectacularly plummet, bringing his career and supremacy to an abrupt end.

In Indurain, Alasdair Fotheringham gets to the heart of this enigmatic character, reliving his historic accomplishments in vibrant colour, and exploring how this shaped the direction taken by generations of Spanish racers – raising Spanish sport to a whole new level.

Draft Animals

by Phil Gaimon

Ok, we’re gonna start with the fact that Phil is a dear friend. In saying this, our take on his book is unbiased, but don’t look here if you want any scandal, gossip etc.  Phil rode the world tour ranks for two years, as a workhorse, or “draft animal” as the title implies. A sneak behind the scenes of the pro cycling world, tales from the road, the ups and downs, lefts, rights, missteps, mistakes, and successes.

Like countless other kids, Phil Gaimon grew up dreaming of being a professional athlete. But unlike countless other kids, he actually pulled it off. After years of amateur races and hard training, he finally achieved his goal and signed a contract to race professionally on one of the best teams in the world. Now, Gaimon pulls back the curtain on the WorldTour, cycling’s highest level. He takes readers along for his seasons in Europe, covering everything from water-bottle-stealing fans, to contract renewals, to riding in poisonous smog, to making friends in a sport plagued by doping.

Higher Calling

by Max Leonard

Max Leonard has been writing about cycling for many years.  Unlike many others on this list though, he’s never come from a journalism background and has never covered cycling as a journalist per se.  He’s an author, and this differentiation shines through on the pages.  A look at the mountains, cycling’s obsessions with them

Why do road cyclists go to the mountains?

After all, cycling up a mountain is hard – so hard that, to many non-cyclists, it can seem absurd. But, for some, climbing a mountain gracefully (and beating your competitors up the slope) represents the pinnacle of cycling achievement. The mountains are where legends are forged and cycling’s greats make their names.

Many books tell you where the mountains are, or how long and how high. None of them ask ‘Why?’

Why are Europe’s mountain ranges professional cycling’s Wembley Stadium or its Colosseum? Why do amateurs also make a pilgrimage to these high, remote roads and what do we see and feel when we do?
Why are the roads there in the first place?

Higher Calling explores the central place of mountains in the folklore of road cycling. Blending adventure and travel writing with the rich narrative of pro racing, Max Leonard takes the reader from the battles that created the Alpine roads to the shepherds tending their flocks on the peaks, and to a Grand Tour climax on the ‘highest road in Europe’. And he tells stories of courage and sacrifice, war and love, obsession and elephants along the way.