Vintage cycling books

A selection of books that look back at some of cycling’s greatest heroes, races and iconic brands. For more information from Amazon click on the book image.


“Moore entertainingly unravels the complexities of the relationships within the peloton during a three-week stage race, the sort of battle in which alliances can shift from one mountain peak to another and your enemy’s enemy can suddenly become your most valued friend” (Richard Williams Guardian)

“As a matter of some urgency, arm yourself first with Slaying the Badger by Richard Moore and immerse yourself in the epic story of the 1986 Tour and the two greatest riders of their era. … The race and the book builds towards a gripping page turning climax which you don’t want to end” (Bredan Gallagher Daily Telegraph)


History’s most appalling bike race was an ordeal of 400-kilometre stages, cataclysmic night storms and relentless sabotage – all on a diet of raw eggs and red wine. Of the 81 who rolled out of Milan, only eight made it back.

Committed to total authenticity, Tim acquires the ruined husk of a gearless, wooden-wheeled 1914 road bike, some maps and an alarming period outfit topped off with a pair of blue-lensed welding goggles. What unfolds is the tale of decreipt crock trying to ride another up a thousand lonely hills, then down them with only wine corks for brakes. From the Alps to the Adriatic, the pair steadily fall to bits, on an adventure that is by turns bold, beautiful and recklessly incompetent.


Comic writer Tim Moore trades his ailing Rolls Royce for a bicycle, a map and a water bottle in French Revolutions.

This is a quest to pedal the route of the Tour de France, no mean feat for the fit, let alone a self-described suburban slouch. The resulting 2,256-haphazard-mile journey transforms Moore, the everyman who pedalled in youth and now wouldn’t ride a bike to the corner store, into an incredibly fit and passionately proud cyclist.


Road to Valour is the inspiring, against-the-odds story of Gino Bartali, the cyclist who made the greatest comeback in Tour de France history and continues to hold the record for the longest time-span between victories. Yet what ensured his permanent place in Italian hearts and minds were his actions in between, when he secretly aided the Italian Resistance during World War II.

Road to Valour is the breathtaking account of one man’s unsung heroism and his resilience in the face of adversity. An epic tale of courage, comeback and redemption, it is the untold story of one of the greatest athletes of the twentieth century.


Laurent Fignon is one of the giants of modern cycling. Twice-winner of the Tour de France in the early eighties, Fignon became the star for a new generation. In 1989 he took part in one of the most fiercely-contested Tours of all time. Over the course of 3,285 kilometres he lost out to his American arch-rival, Greg LeMond, by an agonising eight seconds on the final Parisian time trial.

In this forthright and unflinching account the former champion spares neither friends nor opponents, nor even himself. In doing so he gives cycling fans a tantalising glimpse of what really went on behind the scenes of this epic sport – the friendships, the rivalries, the betrayals, the scheming, the parties, the girls, and, of course, the performance-enhancing drugs.


The cyclist Tom Simpson is a legend. The first British world champion, the first Briton to pull on the fabled yellow jersey of the Tour de France – he brought professional cycling to a nation and inspired generations of riders.

His autobiography, Cycling is My Life, was written the year before he died tragically on the barren moonscape of Mont Ventoux during the 1967 Tour aged just twenty-nine. Forty years on, hundreds of fans still make the pilgrimage to the windswept memorial.


Eddy Merckx is to cycling what Muhammad Ali is to boxing or Pelé to football: quite simply, the best there has ever been. Merckx was a machine. It wasn’t just the number of victories (445); it was his remorseless domination that created the legend. He didn’t just beat his opponents, he crushed them.

‘Merckx – a natural champion who, famously, never knew what prize money was, but regularly rode himself and others into agony and glory – is a fine choice for a writer of Fotheringham’s skill and cycling knowledge… A fascinating, often bleak portrait of a remarkable athlete and an unnerving man’


‘more than the story of a cyclist, more than a story about cycling… it’s the story of a man forgotten by history but who deserves to be remembered, not just for the life he lived, but for the way the story of that life has been told.’
(Feargal McKay Podium Café)

‘incredibly impressive… a monumental work of great credit to its author and principal subjects, in equal parts social and sporting history and may well be one of the finest books i have ever had the pleasure of reading.’
(The Washing Machine Post)


Voted the most popular Italian sportsman of the twentieth century, Fausto Angelo Coppi was the campionissimo – champion of champions. The greatest cyclist of the immediate post-war years, he was the first man to win cycling’s great double, the Tour de France and Tour of Italy in the same year – and he did it twice. He achieved mythical status for his crushing solo victories, world titles and world records. But his significance extends far beyond his sport.

In Fallen Angel, acclaimed cycling biographer, William Fotheringham, tells the tragic story of Coppi’s life and death – of how a man who became the symbol of a nation’s rebirth after the disasters of war died reviled and heartbroken. Told with insight and intelligence, this is a unique portrait of Italy and Italian sport at a time of tumultuous change.


In Étape, critically acclaimed author Richard Moore tells the stories behind some of the defining stages in the Tour de France’s history through the eyes of the protagonists: the heroes and villains, stars and journeymen.

Featuring exclusive new interviews with Mark Cavendish, Lance Armstrong, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault, Greg LeMond, David Millar, Chris Boardman and many other Tour riders past and present, Étape spans six decades in conveying the mystery, beauty and madness of the world’s greatest bike race.


On 14 February 2004, former Tour de France winner Marco Pantani was found dead in Rimini weeks after being expelled from the Tour of Italy for blood doping. Conspiracy theories abounded – that he was injected in his sleep by a business rival, that the Olympic Committee had framed him, that Italian Industrialists had engineered his downfall and more.

None of these are entirely true and none of them fully explain Pantani’s personal tragedy. This book debunks the myths and makes surprising revelations about Pantani and also about the world of cycling.


Sex, Lies and Handlebar Tape is the astonishing biography of French cycling star Jacques Anquetil. For the first time since his death in 1987, it reveals the extraordinary truth behind the legend and the cyclist. His list of ‘firsts’ alone makes him worthy of a place in the cycling pantheon: the first to win the Tour de France five times; the first to win all three grand tours – the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España; and the first to win both the Tour and Vuelta in the same year.

However, the extraordinary life of Anquetil does not stop at his achievements on a bike. He candidly admitted to using drugs, offended legions of fans by confessing that his only motivation for riding was financial and infamously indulged his enthusiasm for the high life. He also seduced and married his doctor’s wife, had a child with her daughter and then sustained a ménage à trois with both wife and stepdaughter under the same roof for 12 years. When this ‘family’ eventually imploded, he attempted to inspire jealousy in his former lovers by having a child with his stepson’s ex-wife.


Luis Ocaña seemed doomed to live in the shadow of cycling’s greatest ever rider, Eddy Merckx – ‘The Cannibal’. Their rivalry defined Ocaña’s entire career, yet he was the one rider capable of beating the all-conquering Merckx in his prime.An enigmatic outsider to both the Spanish and French throughout his career – never truly accepted in either country – he died in mysterious circumstances aged just 48.

A fascinating, complicated character both on and off his bike, Ocaña’s fierce determination, impetuosity and – some would say – recklessness created some of the most beautiful and gripping episodes in the history of the sport.


As Leica is to cameras and Ferrari to racing automobiles, Campagnolo is to cycling: designer of the finest parts for bicycles ever made. Campagnolo’s jewel-like brakes, pedals, derailleurs, cranksets, and wheels have been ridden to more race victories than any other brand, yet the same components are available to cycling enthusiasts worldwide.

“Campagnolo: 75 Years of Cycling Passion” is a book for every lover of the sport of cycling, as well as connoisseurs of the bicycle itself.This book features colour and black-and-white photos and illustrations throughout. It comes in a hardback with jacket.


An elegant and comprehensively illustrated lexicon of the most stylish and technically important designs from Cinelli, a giant of the Italian bicycle.

Required reading for all biking enthusiasts tracing as it does the history of the art and craft of Cino Cinelli who began making frames and components in the 1940s.