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RCUK’s Christmas Gift Guide 2017: 12 of the best cycling books of the year

From award-winning biographies to essential cycling guides, here are the best cycling reads of 2017

What’s on your Christmas list? New bike? Maybe some top cycling clothing to see you through into the new year? Or how about a book to cosy up with on Christmas Day, post-dinner, as you contemplate how many extra minutes you’ll need on the turbo to make up for the extra slice of turkey?

Once again, 2017 has been a rich year for cycling literature – from award-winning biographies to essential climbing guides. We’ve picked out a round dozen of the best cycling books of 2017, to help give you some Christmas gift ideas.

2017 has been another bumper year for cycling books


Joanna Rowsell Shand: Full Circle – £20

Five world titles, four European golds, two record-breaking Olympic team pursuit wins… Joanna Rowsell Shand has been an integral part of the British Cycling’s recent track success.

Joanna Rowsell Shand’s autobiography tells the story of her rise to prominence on the track (Pic: Alex Whitehead/

The cleverly-named Full Circle tells the story of the recently-retired pursuit star’s life and career; living with alopecia and rising to become one of the country’s finest cycling talents.

Tom Simpson: Bird on the Wire (Andy McGrath) (£36)

Named last month as the William Hill Sports Book of the Year, Andy McGrath’s biography of Tom Simpson arrived 50 years after Britain’s first male road world champion died on Mont Ventoux.

Tom Simpson: Bird on the Wire, by Andy McGrath, was awarded William Hill Sports Book of the Year 2017

Featuring rare photography of Simpson and previously untold stories from Simpson’s nearest and dearest, this is more than just your regurgitated tale of Simpson’s life and career.

Sir Bradley Wiggins, a self-confessed fan of Simpson, provides the foreword and the book itself its beautifully produced.

Gravel Cycling: The Complete Guide to Gravel Racing and Adventure Bikepacking (Nick Legan) – £21.95

Gravel and adventure riding is booming – you only have to look around this year’s biggest trade shows to see how many brands are throwing their hats into the ‘road plus’ ring.

Gravel riding is on the rise

But what’s it all about, why has it become so popular, and where can you take your gravel grinding ambitions? Nick Legan’s Gravel Cycling is the ideal companion, full of route ideas for bikepacking and must-ride gravel events.

Britain’s Greatest Cycling Climbs Box Set (Simon Warren) – £50

Simon Warren’s Greatest Climbs series is the go-to source for information on Britain’s best ascents and the climb fanatic’s latest venture is perfect for any aspirational British cyclist.

Britain’s Greatest Cycling Climbs is the must-have guide to the UK’s must-ride ascents

If you want to learn more about the must-ride climbs in the UK, sorted by region and with photos, maps, factfiles and detailed climb descriptions, then look no further than this box set. The eight-volume anthology features 525 climbs, from north-west England to the south-east and from Scotland to Wales. The books are also available individually.

Higher Calling: Road Cycling’s Obsession with the Mountains (Max Leonard) – £16.99

On the topic of climbs, Max Leonard’s Higher Calling takes a different look at the question of ascending.

Why are the European mountain passes so revered by cyclists? (Pic: Alex Broadway/

This is not a book about where to find climbs, or their bare statistics, but why Europe’s mountain ranges have become so revered for cyclists. Stories of Grand Tour battles, historic myths, war and sacrifice all feature.

Ventoux: Sacrifice and Suffering on the Giant of Provence (Jeremy Whittle) – £16.99

Sticking with Europe’s iconic climbs, perhaps no other ascent is as revered around the cycling world as the Giant of Provence.

Mont Ventoux is perhaps the most revered of cycling’s iconic climbs (Pic: Sportive Breaks)

Mont Ventoux has staged some of cycling’s most epic battles; as well as being the slope on which Tom Simpson lost his life in 1967.

It has inspired novels and decided Grand Tours, and Jeremy Whittle’s Ventoux details how it has become such an infamous climb – including interviews with Eddy Merckx, Nicole Cooke and Lance Armstrong.

Butcher, Blacksmith, Acrobat, Sweep: The Tale of the First Tour de France (Peter Cossins) – £14.99

The first ever Tour de France paved the way for some of cycling’s greatest tales, but the race itself – and its founding – was an epic tale in its own right that deserves to be told.

Butcher, Blacksmith, Acrobat, Sweep tells the story of the first Tour de France

So that’s exactly what Peter Cossins has done, blending background information on how the race came to be with blow-by-blow accounts of the action.

Race winner Maurice Garin may be just a name in the history books to many, but Cossins ensures he and his peers come to life in Butcher, Blacksmith, Acrobat, Sweep.

Fuelling the Cycling Revolution (Nigel Mitchell) – £16.99

Nigel Mitchell was at the heart of the rise of both British Cycling and Team Sky, serving as chief nutritionist.

Nigel Mitchell has helped fuelled some of the best riders in the world

Now at Cannondale-Drapac, Fuelling the Cycling Revolution, reveals some of the nutritional strategies that have helped power the world’s finest riders to the top of the sport. The book contains 24 recipes, from dinners to on-the-bike snacks, and race case studies to help give you a performance edge.

Rainbows in the Mud: Inside the Intoxicating World of Cyclocross (Paul Maunder) – £14.99

Cyclo-cross has wrestled its way into the mainstream, with mud, beer and frites fully engrained in the winter cyclist’s psyche.

Mud, sand, beer, frites… cyclo-cross is no longer a hidden gem but a mainstream discipline

Paul Maunder’s Rainbows in the Mud takes a closer look at a season of ‘cross, exploring its culture, history and obsessive fans.

If you’ve caught the ‘cross bug, then this book is everything you need to know about the sport.

Steadfast: My Story (Lizzie Deignan) – £20

Lizzie Deignan (then Armitstead) started the 2016 season in stunning form – clad in the rainbow jersey of world champion, her performances in the Spring Classics raised expectations as she targeted Olympic gold in Rio in the summer.

Lizzie Deignan’s cycling world fell apart on the eve of Rio 2016 (Pic:

Then herworld fell in – a third anti-doping whereabouts failure almost saw her banned, and though one was of those missed tests was eventually struck from the record, the subsequent media leak saw her star fall.

Steadfast is Britain’s queen of the road fighting back – revealing the inside story of what really happened in the build-up to Rio, alongside detailing the ups and downs of being at the pinnacle of women’s cycling.

Ask A Pro (Phil Gaimon) – £16.99

Phil Gaimon’s Ask A Pro, or Ask a Pro: Deep Thoughts and Unreliable Advice from America’s Foremost Cycling Sage to give it the full title, takes a sideways glance at life in the pro peloton.

Phil Gaimon has kept busy in retirement

The former Cannondale pro has kept busy in retirement, including a monthly Q&A ‘Ask A Pro’ column.

That forms the heart of this book, with questions on everything from changing tyres to getting your friends to accept your freshly-shaven legs back.

Fabian Cancellara – £36

Unlike a standard autobiography, Fabian Cancellara is a richly-illustrated look back at Spartacus’ career instead, with the man himself annotating the best photographs of his illustrious career.

Fabian Cancellara’s self-titled book is his ‘official goodbye to his fans’ (Pic: Sirotti)

The book looks at 20 career-defining moments, chosen and described by the Swiss legend himself, in a book dubbed ‘the official goodbye to his fans’

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