Publisher that leads the field on cycling

Mark Cavendish crosses the finish line to win the fifth stage of the Tour de France in 2010
Mark Cavendish crosses the finish line to win the fifth stage of the Tour de France in 2010
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As we gear up for the Grand Départ in Yorkshire, Random House are publishing Yellow Jersey Cycling Classics. Yvette Huddleston reports.

IT WAS inevitable, really, that cycling was going to be a key theme in a number of artistic and cultural endeavours this year – and one big publishing house has just launched a multi-book project.

Yesterday Yellow Jersey Press, part of the Random House Group, published collectible special editions of their best loved cycling books.

Yellow Jersey Press was created in 1998 with the aim of publishing top quality sports writing. Since then it has established itself as the undisputed leader of the pack in the genre and its output includes five winners of the prestigious William Hill Sports Books of the Year award.

One in three cycling books bough in the UK is published by the Yellow Jersey Press and it is home to some of cycling’s biggest heroes such as Bradley Wiggins, Tom Simpson, Stephen Roche and Laurent Fignon. In addition they have on board some of the sport’s most admired writers like William Fotheringham, Tim Moore, Ned Boulting, Paul Kimmage and Richard Moore.

There are five books in the new Cycling Classics series – Put Me Back on My Bike by William Fotheringham, My Time: The Autobiography by Bradley Wiggins, Slaying the Badger by Richard Moore, French Revolutions by Tim Moore and How I Won the Yellow Jumper by Ned Boulting.

Wiggins’ intimate memoir focusses on the extraordinary year he had in 2012 when he made history on July 22 becoming the first British cyclist to win the Tour de France and then, just ten days later, won a gold medal at the London Olympic games. He instantly became a national hero, but it had been a tough journey over the previous two years to get there.

The book candidly charts his determination to fight his way back up to the top from a low ebb, the brutal training regimes, the sacrifices he had to make and his views on his teammates and rivals. He also touches on the anger he feels at the shadow that doping casts on his sport and how he coped with the rush of winning Olympic gold. First published in May last year, the book became a Sunday Times bestseller.

Sports broadcaster Ned Boulting’s How I Won the Yellow Jumper follows his – often hilarious – experiences covering the world’s most famous two-wheeled race. His story offers an insider’s view of life behind the scenes of the Tour, as well as detailing the ups and downs of reporting on the race and his encounters with some of the world’s most famous riders including Wiggins, Cavendish and Armstrong.

First published three years ago, the book is funny, irreverent and warm-hearted in its depiction of the author’s journey from clueless trainee (“I had never seen a bike race. I had only vaguely heard of Lance Armstrong”) to engaged enthusiast.

Leading sports journalist William Fotheringham’s Put Me Back on My Bike – In Search of Tom Simpson is a biography of a man who is regarded by many as Britain’s greatest cyclist. Simpson died a tragically early death on Mont Ventoux during the 1967 Tour de France. Decades later hundreds of fans still go to the remote memorial which marks the spot where he died.

A complex man, Simpson was one of the first cyclists to admit to using banned drugs and was accused of fixing races but he still inspired affection and awe in many. First published in 2003, the book was described by one critic as “the best cycling biography ever written”.

Also first published in 2003, travel writer and humorist Tim Moore’s French Revolutions charts the author’s valiant efforts to complete all 3,630km of the 200 Tour in the weeks before the professionals set off. Along the way he encounters old men on butcher’s bikes and is pursued by cattle over Europe’s highest road while coping with systematic overeating, sill clothing and terrible saddle soreness.