The career of Beryl Burton, prolific world and British national champion, will be the subject of a full-length biography for the first time when author William Fotheringham tells the story of the Yorkshire star's life next year in the latest in his series of biographies covering cycling's most legendary figures.
The Greatest: the Times and Life of Beryl Burton will be published in September 2019 to coincide with the UCI Road World Championships in Burton's native Yorkshire, and will be linked to the Yorkshire-based Dave Rayner fund, with £1 per copy sold going to the charity that provides stipends to help fund young British cyclists racing in Europe.
"Burton has been described as Britain’s greatest-ever cyclist," Fotheringham said in a press release about the new book. "Her career was unique in the same way that Eddy Merckx's was, for her longevity and her insatiable appetite for victory. She won world championship medals over three decades, and she dominated women's racing in the UK for the best part of 30 years."
Burton won 15 world championship medals, including gold medals in the road race in 1960 and 1967. She won the Individual Pursuit title in 1959, 1960, 1962, 1963 and 1966. She racked up a total of 96 national championship gold medals in time trialling, road racing and the Pursuit between 1957 and 1986, and she was crowned British Best All Rounder for 25 consecutive seasons. Burton died in 1996 at the age of 59.
"My personal belief is that Burton has been cruelly overlooked, and I would like to be among those who have the chance to put that right," Fotheringham said. "She suffered in two ways. One was that she was so dominant that her victories were taken for granted for about 20 years. The other was that she was denied the chance to gain the recognition that she craved because women’s cycling remained in the Dark Ages for so long. She had no chance to race at the Olympic Games, and there were only two disciplines to contest at the world championships."
Fotheringham's best-selling biographies have thus far told the stories of four of cycling's greatest male champions: Tom Simpson, Fausto Coppi, Bernard Hinault and Eddy Merckx, and he also collaborated with Lizzie Deignan, like Burton a Yorkshire world road race champion, on her 2017 autobiography, Steadfast. He has been The Guardian's lead cycling writer since 1994.
Pre-orders will be taken for The Greatest: the Times and Life of Beryl Burton from spring 2019. For more information, click here.
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