Andy McGrath’s ‘Tom Simpson: Bird on the Wire’ wins 2017 William Hill Sports Book of the Year

Graham Sharpe

The biography of British cyclist ‘Tom Simpson: Bird on the Wire’ by Andy McGrath has won the 2017 ‘William Hill Sports Book of the Year’, the most prestigious prize in English sports literature.

The 29th winner of William Hill’s Sports Book of the Year, Bird on the Wire becomes the fourth cycling book to win the literature contest.

The judging panel detailed that Andy McGrath’s biography had captured the complex being of champion cyclist Tom Simpson, the first Briton to wear the Tour de France Maillot Jaune.

Furthermore, covering Simpson career highs and lows, judges detailed that McGrath had managed to bring new insight into cyclist’s relationship with family, friends and fellow riders.

Cycling writer McGrath, the editor of Rouleur Magazine beat a Sports Book of the Year shortlist of; David Bolchover (The Greatest Comeback: From Genocide to Football Glory); Jonathan Eig (Ali: A Life); Ian Herbert (Quiet Genius: Bob Paisley, British Football’s Greatest Manager); Jenny Landreth (Swell: A Waterbiography); Declan Murphy and Ami Rao (Centaur), and Neville Gabie, Alan Ward and Jason Wood (Breaking Ground: Art, Archaeology and Mythology).

Graham Sharpe, William Hill’s Chairman of the judging panel, commented on McGrath’s victory:

“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.”

The McGrath win sees the author receive a £29,000 cheque, a free £2,500 William Hill bet, and a day at the races courtesy of William Hill. Previous winners of the prestigious award include Nick Hornby, Lance Armstrong with Sally Jenkins, and Anna Krien.

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