The Tour de France has finished and you have binged watched Netflix's Unchained, but what is next? Here at The Road Book, we love a great piece of cycling writing, and as there are so many fantastic new fans looking for an introduction to the sport and Tour De France, we thought we would share a few of our favourite cycling books with you.
1) How I Won the Yellow Jumper by Ned Boulting – If you’re new to the Tour and cycling as a whole, we cannot recommend our editor Ned’s memoir highly enough. You might recognise him now as the authoritative and ever professional commentator on ITV’s coverage, a Tour de France Stalwart for 21 years, but he wasn’t always so. In ‘How I won the Yellow Jumper’, Ned takes us on a hilarious trip through his transformation from “the Monty Don of cycling” to a beloved feature of the race, and all the mistakes he made on the way. Humility, honesty and humour run throughout and Ned’s engaging style means putting it down is an impossibility.
2) 1923 by Ned Boulting – The genesis of this book was a two-minute clip of the TdF from 1923 purchased by Ned at an auction. This took him down a rabbit hole, exploring the oft 'forgotten' history of how cycling once was. Leading Ned to this wonderful creation, uncovering the stories of riders like Henry Pelissier who won the Tour that year, and was later shot dead by his lover; and a world still reeling from the devastation of the First World War.
3) Road to Valour: A true Story of WWII Italy, the Nazis, and the Cyclist Who Inspired a Nation by Aili and Andres McConnon – The story of Gino Bartali, an Italian national hero, is one of the most astounding and inspirational ever told. Not only does he hold the record for the two Yellow Jersey victories with the longest time gap in between, but during the Second World War he used his talent and fame to save lives in astonishing ways. His efforts, recounted masterfully by Aili and Andres McConnon is deserving of many accolades, which he refused, holding that “The good is done, but it is not said. And certain medals hang on the soul, not on the jacket”.
4) A Significant Other: Riding the Tour de France with Lance Armstrong by Matt Rendell - An inside view into the significance of teamwork, those who contributed to Lance Armstrong’s many wins and most importantly his TdF victory in 2003. Victor Hugo Pena not only provided everything that Armstrong needed, from feeding, to lead-outs and closing gaps but he also wore the yellow jersey himself in 2003, an honour not many domestiques get very often in their careers. A compelling story for those unsung heroes.
5) Etape: the Untold Stories of the Tour de France’s Defining Stages by Richard Moore – Featuring exclusive interviews with; Mark Cavendish, Lance Armstrong, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Greg LeMond, among many other hero's within the peloton, this book mediates the stories of some of the most defining stages in TdF's history. Spanning five decades of history, you can read about the myths, legends, scandals and courage the race will hold onto forever.
6) ‘Black Champions in Cycling’ – Marlon Lee Moncrieffe – Exploring a collection of stories, looking into the rich and often overlooked history of the successes of the black community in cycling, one that is growing stronger every year. It's the first book of its kind, collating a collection of stories, exclusive interviews and personal reflections from historical icons to present-day competitors. Those who are still tackling prevalent issues - access barriers to cycling, diversity, overcoming discrimination and the astounding lack of representation.
7) ‘The First Tour de France: Sixty Cyclists and Nineteen Days of Daring on the Road to Paris’ by Peter Cossins – Cossins, a former Road Book contributor no less, pens a masterful retelling of the very first Tour de France, and the chaos that ensued as sixty amateur cyclists attempt a race only for the least sane cycling fanatics. If you want to know more about the origins of Le Tour, then look no further.
Let us know if you agree with our choices over on our socials!
And if you’re looking for something more substantial, filled with statistics and essays written by the very best cyclists and journalists, then pick up a copy of The Road Book.
The Road Book 1989, our newest edition, is a comprehensive review of perhaps the most monumental year in cycling history. Not only do Matt Rendell and Ned Boulting outline how cycling is fundamentally altered by the cataclysmic changes in Europe triggered by the fall of The Berlin Wall; a year of intense racing sets the backdrop for the closest Tour de France in history, with only 8 seconds between Greg LeMond and Laurent Fignon! Even Pogacar and Vingegaard would struggle to replicate such drama.
Written by Dannie and Henrik of The Road Book Team