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10 cycling books to read while in coronavirus isolation

Former Tour of Flanders winner Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) takes on the Muur van Geraardsbergen during the 2019 edition of the race
Former Tour of Flanders winner Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) takes on the Muur van Geraardsbergen during the 2019 edition of the race. The 2020 race may have been postponed, but you can still read all about the race in one of our picks of some of the best cycling books (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

As much of the world enjoys more time at home than they ever have before due to the coronavirus crisis – and because there's a limit to how much time you can spend on Zwift on your turbo trainer, or how many episodes of Peppa Pig you can watch – now might be the time to turn towards your bookshelf and fill it with new cycling publications to help keep you entertained in lieu of the lack of racing on television.

Here is Cyclingnews' selection of some of our favourite cycling books to consider, which might help to while away the hours.

Colombia Es Pasión! (W&N) by Matt Rendell

£16.00 (hardback) from Amazon.co.uk

$31.99 (hardback) from Amazon.com

Journalist Matt Rendell is the author of a number of books on cycling, and Colombian cycling, in particular, including 2002's Kings of the Mountains, about the nation of climbers, and his 2004 book, A Significant Other, about Victor Hugo Peña.

Here, with Colombia Es Pasión!, Rendell effectively updates the story, chronicling the more-recent resurrection of Colombian cycling, and the nation's riders' successes in Europe, in particular, with Nairo Quintana's victories at the 2014 Giro d'Italia and 2016 Vuelta a España, and Egan Bernal's somewhat surprising win at the Tour de France last year – a first for Colombia, tipping the riders' countrymen and women into full-on euphoria.

The Greatest: The Times and Life of Beryl Burton (YouCaxton Publications) by William Fotheringham

£20.00 (hardback) from Amazon.co.uk

$24.00 (plus shipping; hardback) from Prendas.co.uk

Beryl Burton's reign as arguably Britain's greatest-ever cyclist included two road race world championship titles and five individual pursuit world titles on the track. Her emergence in the late 1950s was the start of a racing career that stretched all the way to the mid-1980s, although her very biggest victories came in the '60s.

In his latest book, prolific cycling writer William Fotheringham researches his way to the woman behind the confident, aggressive racing persona, along with anecdotes from, and interviews with, many of those who knew her best.

Read an extract from The Greatest: The Times and Life of Beryl Burton here.

The Yellow Jersey (Yellow Jersey) by Peter Cossins

£13.74 (hardback) from Amazon.co.uk

$25.34 (hardback) from Amazon.com

Providing that this year's Tour de France happens at some point, it will mark what is the 101st year that the yellow jersey has been awarded to the leader of the famous French stage race. The maillot jaune celebrated its centenary last year, having first been introduced in 1919 to the then 16-year-old race to help roadside fans identify the rider leading the competition overall.

Former Procycling magazine editor Peter Cossins delves deep into the jersey's history to discover how what was once giggled at as nothing but an exuberant, canary-coloured garment became – and continues to be – such a revered symbol of cycling success.

Read an excerpt from The Yellow Jersey here.

The End of the Road (Bloomsbury Sport) by Alasdair Fotheringham

£9.99 (paperback) from Amazon.co.uk

$14.50 (paperback) from Amazon.com

To understand today's hard-nosed stance against doping, you need to reach back to the almost catastrophic happenings of the 1998 Tour de France, when Festina soigneur Willy Voet was caught en route to the start of the race in Ireland that year with a carload of doping products bound for the team's riders.

It led Tour director Jean-Marie Leblanc to admit later that it almost spelled the end of the Tour itself, although with his and successor Christian Prudhomme's help, the race has clawed its way back to its rightful place in the French public's hearts.

Regular Cyclingnews contributor Alasdair Fotheringham expertly tells the story of a truly memorable edition of the race – for bad and good – which saw crowd favourite Marco Pantani emerge as the winner from the remnants of that year's decimated Tour peloton.

Read an extract from The End of the Road here.

The Ascent: Sean Kelly, Stephen Roche and the Rise of Irish Cycling's Golden Generation (Gill Books) by Barry Ryan

£14.99 (paperback) from Amazon.co.uk

$19.45 (paperback) from Amazon.com

In The AscentCyclingnews European editor Barry Ryan weaves together in-depth interviews with two of Ireland's – and the sport's – biggest cycling stars, Sean Kelly and Stephen Roche. Between them, country-boy Kelly and city-slicker Roche hoovered up just about everything worth winning in the sport, including Paris-Roubaix, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Milan-San Remo and Il Lombardia multiple times, seven Paris-Nice titles between 1982 and 1988, and the 1988 Vuelta a España for Kelly, and the Giro d'Italia, the Tour de France and the road race World Championships for Roche during what was a particularly dizzying 1987.

Both riders' careers lasted well into the 1990s, and Kelly's pro career started in the late 1970s, but it was the 1980s that the Irish duo truly dominated, taking on the traditional dominance of riders from Spain, France and Italy – all expertly documented here by Ryan.

Read an extract from The Ascent here.

Ventoux: Sacrifice and Suffering on the Giant of Provence (Simon & Schuster) by Jeremy Whittle

£8.99 (paperback) from Amazon.co.uk

$12.66 (paperback) from Amazon.com

Students of the Tour de France's epic climbs generally agree on the two greatest: the legendary Alpe d'Huez and the infamous Mont Ventoux. Much of the latter's notoriety stems from British rider Tom Simpson's death on the climb's southern flanks during the 1967 Tour.

But there are more, slightly less-dark strings to the Ventoux's bow, and the mountain's story is told brilliantly here by long-time cycling journalist and author Jeremy Whittle, who's more qualified than most on the subject, having spent more than his fair share of time in the surrounding area, living in the shadow of Le Géant de Provence.

Rough Ride (Yellow Jersey) by Paul Kimmage

£9.99 (paperback) from Amazon.co.uk

$17.00 (paperback) from Amazon.com

An oldie but goodie – and arguably the gateway to the glut of similarly well-written cycling literature that suddenly came, and continues to come, in the wake of this 1990 William Hill Sports Book of the Year winner – Paul Kimmage's tale of being a pro in the late 1980s is an essential read.

Now a respected journalist, the Irishman was vilified by a number of his former colleagues for having 'spat in the soup' with his revelations of doping in the peloton, but there's a lot more here besides that side of the book, which remains an extremely enjoyable and still-relevant account of life in the pro peloton.

The Ronde: Inside the Tour of Flanders, the World's Toughest Bike Race (Simon & Schuster) by Edward Pickering

£14.99 (paperback) from Amazon.co.uk

$17.86 (paperback) from Amazon.com

Procycling editor Edward Pickering's love for the Tour of Flanders shines throughout this book, which details what is a sacred race for Belgian cycling fans – akin to the FA Cup in the UK, or the Super Bowl in the US. The fact that, as a result of the coronavirus crisis, this year's race has been postponed – and potentially cancelled if another slot doesn't become available further down the track for it – will feel like a knife to the heart of true Flanders fans, such is the passion for it.

Pickering explores the Ronde van Vlaanderen's history and appeal, and speaks to those who've experienced it first-hand in order to paint a full picture of one of the hardest one-day races on the cycling calendar.

Read an extract from The Ronde here.

One Way Ticket: Nine Lives on Two Wheels (Quercus) by Jonathan Vaughters

£15.13 (hardback) from Amazon.co.uk

From $5.12 (paperback) from Amazon.com

Jonathan Vaughters rode for the likes of US Postal and Crédit Agricole during a pro career that stretched from the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s, and then admitted in 2012 that he had doped for much of it.

In his final year as a rider, however, Vaughters sought to mitigate his own wrongdoings by starting a US-based junior team that has grown and blossomed into what is today American WorldTour team EF Pro Cycling, which in previous guises became somewhat of a safe haven for former dopers who had mended their ways. This is Vaughters' story.

Richard Mitchelson's Grand Tour: A Two-Wheeled, Chain-Driven Interactive Artistic Adventure (Velodrome Publishing) by Richard Mitchelson

From £4.50 (paperback) from Amazon.co.uk

$17.96 (paperback) from Amazon.com

Perfect for that big kid in your life (and if you don't think there is one, it's you), Richard Mitchelson has put together this big book of Grand-Tour-related fun, which perhaps has more appeal than ever given that the Giro d'Italia has already been postponed and the Tour de France could be next in line.

You'll no doubt know 'Rich Mitch' the illustrator, thanks to his cartoon portraits of various pro riders, past and present, who have found themselves immortalised on mugs and wallpaper, among other merchandise, and readers will find lots to keep them occupied in this wonderfully irreverent book full of activities, from drawing your own Tour de France route, to dot-to-dots, to designing jerseys.