Bird On The Wire
Winner of the 2017 William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award
Tom Simpson is British cycling's greatest icon. Fifty years after he conquered the continental sporting scene, he still captivates people around the world. After his dramatic death on Mont Ventoux during the 1967 Tour de France, amphetamines and alcohol were found in his system, a fact which often dwarfs his pioneering achievements. From a humble upbringing in a Nottinghamshire mining town, Simpson became the first Briton to win the elite men's World Championships and to wear the Tour de France's yellow jersey. He also took victory at Milan Sanremo, the Tour of Flanders and the Tour of Lombardy, three of cycling's most prestigious races. A charismatic and impulsive character, Simpson lived fast, with a penchant for spectacular racing, sports cars and fanciful dreams. A man of contradictions, he was both people's champion and pariah, a gentleman and a rogue. Guided by rare photography of Simpson, this book by Andy McGrath explores the Briton's feats and complexities through untold stories from those closest to him.
“Rarely does a book meet its aim so perfectly. Innovative design, scrupulous research and stunning photography complement each other superbly to produce Andy McGrath's outstanding and startlingly intimate portrait of a British sporting icon. Like another former Bookie Prize winner, Lance Armstrong, Tom Simpson was hugely talented and single-minded, but flawed. Tom Simpson's tragic morality tale inspires awe and respect, yet also unease amongst those who have seen domestic cycling reach international heights he could only have guessed at.”
— Graham Sharpe, Chairman of the judging panel
Main protagonists and interviews:
Jan Janssen, Raymond Poulidor, Gianni Motta, Barry Hoban, Emile Daems, Brian Robinson, Vin Denson, Helen Hoban, Joanne Simpson, Henri Duez, Charly Wegelius, Dave Bonner, Billy Holmes, Keith Butler, Pete Ryalls and Professor Greg Whyte OBE.
Andy McGrath is the managing editor of Rouleur Magazine. Having previously worked at Cycling Weekly and Cycle Sport, he has also written on cycling for The Guardian and Financial Times. He is the co-author of Official Treasures of the Tour de France and has contributed chapters to several volumes of The Cycling Anthology.
“A beautifully written and designed book that brings a new dimension to a much covered cyclist”
“A fascinating and insightful read”
- Cycling Weekly
“As the marvellous collection of photographs shows, Simpson was so completely dedicated to his sport, he was head and shoulders above his domestic rivals”
- Bristol Post
“This book's principle focus is, as it should be, on his riding, the photography supplementing an extraordinary tale”
- The Pink Southampton
“This book is the latest to give a well-illustrated insight into the life as a professional cyclist in that era ... but above all the beautiful presentation of existing and new images sets this book apart from any previous work.”
- Richard Peploe, Seven Day Cyclist