Peter Cossins

by Nick Bull

I was first drawn to bike racing in the late 1970s as a teenager reading the sports pages in my Dad’s copy of the Daily Telegraph, devouring Phil Liggett’s reports about the exploits of Sean Kelly, Paul Sherwen and, later on, Robert Millar and Sean Yates, gradually gaining knowledge about the tactics and history of the sport.

During the early 1990s, while studying for a diploma in magazine journalism, we were given the task of interviewing a famous personality and my first thought was to contact Liggett. I’ll always to grateful to Phil for agreeing to meet and talk to me, but especially for the help he gave in getting me some work experience at Cycling Weekly.

I was lucky enough to arrive at the Weekly as the editorial team there was putting together the first issue of Cycle Sport, and spent the next five years working on both of those titles, reporting on many of the sport’s major events. I subsequently worked for Procycling, becoming editor of that title between 2006 and 2009. Since then I’ve focused increasingly on writing books about the sport, starting as ghost writer on 1987 Triple Crown winner Stephen Roche’s autobiography Born to Ride. In 2019, Full Gas, my book investigating and describing the tactics of professional bike racing won the cycling book of the year prize at the Daily Telegraph Sports Book Awards.

Since 2016, I’ve lived with my family in the French Pyrenees, the view from my office window filled by the Tour de France climb of Prat d’Albis on the other side of the valley.

Recent Publications

The Yellow Jersey (2019): Celebrating the centenary of the introduction of the Tour de France’s leader’s jersey, this book investigates arguably the most iconic jersey in sport, looking at its origin and the influence it has had on everything from perceptions of the colour yellow to the motivating force it can deliver to riders. It’s beautifully illustrated with pictures that were largely taken of jerseys and other mementos in the cycling collection held at the Musée National de Sport in Nice.

Full Gas (2018): How do you cope with crosswinds, cobbles, elbows-out sprints, weaving your way through a teeming peloton? Why are steady nerves one of the best weapons in a rider’s arsenal and breakaway artists to be revered? Where do you see the finest showcase of tactical brilliance? In Full Gas, the pros reveal the tactics required to contend and win. Winner of the Cycling Book of the Year in the 2019 Daily Telegraph Sports Book Awards.

Butcher, Blacksmith, Acrobat, Sweep (2017): These were the professions of four of the 60 riders who lined up at the start in the first Tour de France in 1903. Drawing on contemporary reports, this book recreates that ground-breaking event, which was both action- and scandal-packed and was an instant popular success. It also investigates that race’s social significance within France in the early years of the 20th century as well as the influence it has had on the Tour and cycle sport in the decades since.

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