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RCUK’s Christmas Gift Guide 2016: 11 must-have cycling books

Must-read cycling books of the year to add to your Christmas wishlist

December is racing along and the countdown to Christmas is ticking down rapidly, but what’s on your Christmas list and what should you buy the cyclist in your life?

We’re beginning our round-up of the best Christmas gifts available and what better place to start than with a Christmas gift staple – books. Luckily, cycling is a sport which lends itself to great books, with inspiring tales and stunning photography.

From training to travel to autobiographies, it’s been another rich year for cycling literature. Here are 11 of the must-have cycling books from 2016.

Ultimate Etapes: Ride Europe’s Greatest Cycling Stages – Peter Cossins

What’s on your cycling bucket list? From the Flandrien cobbles to iconic Alpine ascents, we all have epic rides we’d love to undertake given the chance.

And Peter Cossins’ Ultimate Etapes is a brilliant round-up of some of the best riding available in Europe with one common theme – all the routes used have previously been ridden as stages of some of the continent’s biggest races.

From ‘The Yorkshire Rollercoaster’ – the second stage of the 2014 Tour de France – to stage 17 of the 1977 Tour, which finished atop Alpe d’Huez, Ultimate Etapes continues some of the most memorable cycling routes out there.

It’s not just the Tour de France used as inspiration either – all three Grand Tours are included, alongside classics such as the Tour of Flanders, Liege-Bastogne-Liege and Strade Bianche, and other stage races like the Tour of Britain and Deutschland Tour.

Each section includes a detailed route guide, a closer look at the climbs on offer, stunning photography and advice on other riding in the vicinity of each stage, making this book a must if you’re already planning your 2017 rides.

Buy it now: Amazon (£20), Waterstones (£20)

Chris Boardman: Triumphs and Turbulence

A trailblazer on the bike, both on the track and road, and one of cycling’s keenest students, Chris Boardman has played a key role in the rise of British cycle sport.

As a rider, he was a star of the sport at a time when Brits on bikes – at least in the professional sense – were few and far between.

Chris Boardman has been an integral figure in British Cycling, both on and off the bike (Pic: Phil O’Connor)

After an illustrious career on the bike which included three Tour de France stage wins, Boardman became an important figure in British Cycling’s Secret Squirrel Club and now runs his own bike brand, as well as being a passionate cycling campaign.

Boardman, in short, is an interesting character, and his long-awaited autobiography is a chance to get the inside track on his life in cycling.

From hour records to Tour de France yellow jerseys; marginal gains to his own eponymous bike brand; Boardman has been there, done that and has some very interesting tales to tell as a result.

Buy it now: Amazon (£5.99)

Laura Trott & Jason Kenny: The Inside Track

Jason and Laura Kenny are Great Britain’s golden couple, with ten Olympic gold medals between them – five of which were won in Rio in the summer.

Laura Trott had already become Britain’s most successful female Olympian, winning her second gold of the Games and fourth of her career, as TV cameras honed in on her, still in the track centre, barely able to watch as her then fiancé, and now husband, bid to make history of his own in the keirin.

Laura and Jason Kenny boast ten Olympic gold medals between them (Pic: Sirotti)

Victory for the Bolton-born sprinter, after two false starts, confirmed his place as Britain’s joint-most successful male Olympian but that only tells half the story after a gripping, nerve-wracking finale to the Rio track cycling for British sporting fans.

The Inside Track, co-written by the couple, is exactly that – the inside story of the pain, sacrifices and rewards of two of the greatest Olympians the country has produced.

Buy it now: Amazon (£9.00), Waterstones (£14.00)

The Cyclist Who Went Out in the Cold: Adventures Along the Iron Curtain Trail – Tim Moore

Tim Moore is back, having already written of the many trials and tribulations which came from cycling the entire route of the 2000 Tour de France and then recreating the notoriously difficult 1914 Giro d’Italia – century-old bike and all.

French Revolutions and Gironimo! were both very popular books, but far from resting on his laurels Moore has got back in the saddle for some more reckless inspiration.

This time, it’s the iron curtain he’s taking on and – of course – there’s a twist. That being his decision to ride it on a vintage East German shopping bike.

If you enjoyed reading about Moore’s travails in France and Italy, chances are you’ll love this too.

Buy it now: Amazon (£11.99), Waterstones (£11.99)

Colouring the Tour de France

And now for something a little different, if you’re expecting to find yourself at a loose end, too full of Christmas dinner to move or just bored of small talk with the aunt and uncle you only see once a year…

Colouring the Tour de France is exactly as it sounds – another addition to the increasingly-popular adult-friendly colouring books hitting the book store shelves.

And as far as colour goes, the Tour de France has it in abundance – from the yellow, green and polka dot jerseys to the stunning landscapes the race passes through and the throngs of fans at the roadside.

With contributions from William Fotheringham, it will fill in a few hours while you wait for summer to return at least…

Buy it now: Amazon (£7.99), Waterstones (£7.99)

Ride Strong: Essential conditioning for cyclists – Jo McRae

RCUK readers will be familiar with Jo McRae’s coaching and conditioning expertise thanks to her columns on this very site.

The importance and the benefits of off-the-bike work when it comes to your performance on the bike are becoming well known, and Jo’s book, Ride Strong is the essential guide to exactly that.

If you have big plans for 2017, the comprehensive book is a must as it offers advice on improving flexibility, core and strength.

You’ll find a look at the important exercises to do, and how to mix cross-training into your cycling programme, making this is an important training guide for cyclists.

Buy it now: Amazon (£18.99), Waterstones (£18.99)

Crapper Cycle Lanes

Crapper Cycle Lanes is billed as the ‘sequel we never wanted to publish’, but unfortunately – nine years after Crap Cycle Lanes was first published – there’s enough to fill another book.

Crapper Cycle Lanes runs the rule over the ‘investment’ in cycling infrastructure and cycle lanes, and highlights those which make you question how and why they even came to be.

It’s a ‘tear-your-hair-out’, ‘laugh or you’ll cry’ collection, but in a world of chaos and confusion it’s nice to have a chuckle.

Plus, as an added bonus, stick it in your rucksack and next time your questioned as to why cyclists don’t use cycle lanes, you have the perfect riposte.

Buy it now: Amazon (£7.99), Waterstones (£7.99)

The Science of the Tour de France: Training secrets of the world’s best cyclists – James Witts

Training techniques to nutrition strategy; cutting-edge gear to Formula One telemetry – there’s no stone left unturned when it comes to improving performance at pro level.

James Witts has uncovered the science behind what makes the WorldTour pros successful, with contributions and insights from the likes of sprinting superstar Marcel Kittel and double world champion Peter Sagan.

James Witts unpicks the training secrets of the Tour de France’s leading riders

It’s not just the pros who can benefit from such advice – this is as much a training guide as it is information book. Sports scientists, coaches, nutritionists and chefs have all revealed some of the secrets of the trade – definitely one to buy if you want to take your training to the next level.

Buy it now: Amazon (£4.99)

Jens Voigt – Shut Up Legs!: My Wild Ride On and Off the Bike

Jens Voigt became a cult hero on the bike and the German’s catchphrase, “Shut up legs”, has become deeply entrenched in cycling parlance.

Voigt started 17 consecutive Tours de France between 1998 and 2014, riding into his 40s but never losing his penchant for attacking and beating the pain barrier to put the peloton through the grinder.

Jens Voigt was as popular on the bike as off it during his long career (Pic: Sirotti)

Shut Up Legs! examines the ups and downs of his long career, with Voigt telling the tell of his life on and off the bike, which began behind the Berlin Wall in East Germany and included a four-year stint in the army.

As popular off the bike as he was on it, Voigt’s autobiography is a must-buy.

Buy it now: Waterstones (£8.99)

The End of the Road: The Festina Affair and the Tour that Almost Wrecked Cycling – Alasdair Fotheringham

The d-word refuses to go away in cycling, but in 1998 it threatened to derail the sport completely, with the Festina Affair bringing cycling to its knees.

Festina soigneur Willy Voet’s arrest at the Franco-Belgian border triggered police raids, rider protests, disqualifications and protests at the 1998 Tour de France – arguably one of the most scandal-struck sporting events in history.

Riders protested at the 1998 Tour de France as the Festina Affair shrouded the sport in scandal (Pic: Sirotti)

Alasdair Fotheringham book, The End of the Road, takes an in-depth look at that Tour, how the sport sank into scandal and the lessons – if any – learned since.

It makes for fascinating reading, albeit an uncomfortable reminder of cycling’s recent chequered history.

Buy it now: Amazon (£14.49), Waterstones (£14.49)

Mountains: Epic Cycling Climbs – Michael Blann

Mountains: the pinnacle of cycling; thigh-numbing ascents; an open-air stage for some of pro cycling’s most iconic moments. Cyclists’ bucket lists are littered with must-ride climbs, as beautiful as they are brutal.

Photographer Michael Blann has snapped some of the toughest and most iconic cycling climbs in Europe for Mountains – a stunning coffee table book for cyclists.

Featuring contributions from Romain Bardet, Greg Lemond, Stephen Roche, Geraint Thomas, Lizzie Armitstead, Robert Millar and many more, the book blends stunning images with epic tales from within the pro peloton.

If you need any inspiration to get training this winter, this book provides it in spades.

Buy it now: Amazon (£34.95), Waterstones (£34.95)

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