GCN's The Complete Fan's Guide To Pro Cycling provides an intriguing insight into the world of professional cycling without putting you to sleep. Whether you're watching a five-hour Grand Tour stage, a UCI cyclocross race or even an individual time trial, it's the ideal book to have lying around when you have a question that needs answering. Written by Peter Cossins and featuring insights from current professional cyclists, alongside GCN's host of ex-pros, you'll stay informed without falling asleep!
If you haven't heard of GCN, I'd recommend checking them out on YouTube – and you could argue they're the cycling world's equivalent of Top Gear. What started out as a group of ex-pro cyclists presenting information on cycling tech, races and more has morphed into an all-encompassing group of passionate presenters offering daily tech updates, complete race coverage and everything in between. So naturally, it makes sense that they'd publish a book alongside the highly regarded cycling author and former editor of Procycling magazine, Peter Cossins.
The result is an easy-reading book featuring facts, figures and insight into the world of professional cycling – from the 'Principles of Pro Cycling' through to Race Tactics and Peloton Trivia. Not only does this make the book a refreshing page-turner, but it also ensures you can pick it up mid-stage as you try to understand why the race leader chooses not to follow the breakaway, or why team soigneurs can't give their flagging riders musettes whenever they need them.
You'd be forgiven for thinking this guide would focus purely on road racing. After all, the Grand Tours that dominate cycling's calendar and are often the global image of cycling. However, Peter Cossins and GCN's experts have also taken the time to introduce cyclocross racing, even extending to the tactics deployed by individual riders. There's also a brief introduction to gravel riding and racing, which is perhaps unsurprising considering the discipline's phenomenal growth over the last few years.
Scattered throughout the guide are excerpts and perspectives from both current and former riders, many of whom are household names. Equally refreshing, is the fact that GCN's guide doesn't solely focus on the male talent for perspectives and insights. Lucinda Brand is one of many female riders whose perspectives and pedigree are put centre stage when she discusses the most important aspect of cyclocross racing – spoiler alert: it's the start. These add a level of authenticity that you'd struggle to find when reading a Wikipedia article. Sure, the 'Pro's Perspective' is an opinion piece and not necessarily backed up by hard facts, but it gives you an authentic insight into the mentality of a professional cyclist.
A little frustratingly, it seems that Peter Cossins and the GCN team of editors were in two minds when writing The Complete Fan's Guide To Pro Cycling. On the one hand, it's incredibly easy to read, making it perfect for new fans wanting to learn more about professional cycling – yet cycling jargon has been used that simply wouldn't make sense to the uninitiated.
Equally, at times there is a significant lack of depth to the writing for the cognoscenti who might be hoping for a deeper explanation. Having said this, if GCN were to truly provide a complete guide to pro cycling, the book would be the size of an encyclopedia rather than one perfectly suited to grabbing at a moment's notice. In this sense, The Complete Fan's Guide To Pro Cycling is the perfect place to begin or continue your pro cycling education and it can also direct you to further research.
My main bugbears are the photo captions and the lack of an index. The captions are practically hopeless on half the images because the small writing blends into the image. GCN should have put dialogue boxes underneath each image. This would have increased the book's size – but it would have made it significantly more informative, and I wouldn't have strained my eyes striving for additional insight. An index would have made it much easier to find answers to your questions at short notice.
But overall, GCN's Complete Fan's Guide To Pro Cycling is a fascinating read, offering an insight into the world of professional cycling, from race craft and tactics to bicycle design and income streams. Okay, it's light on details at times, but it's not designed to be treated as an encyclopaedia. Instead, pick it up when you're watching a stage of the Vuelta or a UCI World Cup Race and you have a question that's bugging you – you'll likely find the answer you're after... and if you need more information, you'll have a basis to begin searching online.
Informative yet easy reading for fans of the world of professional cycling, both new and old
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Make and model: GCN The Complete Fan's Guide To Pro Cycling
Size tested: Size: 246mm (h) x 189mm (w)
Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
"GCN Presents The Complete Fan's Guide To Pro Cycling By Peter Cossins, the award-winning cycling author explains the different races, gives insight to the many types of rider and reveals the tactics that go into making today's top-level bike racing work.
"Superficially, bike races are simple: all the riders set off together and the first across the finish line wins. But scratch the surface and there are myriad stories, specialisms and sub-competitions to enrich our experience – and perhaps – confuse us. We'll explain how it works, and what to look out for."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
- Pages: 244 (120gsm)
- Size: 246mm (h) x 189mm (w)
- Cover: Paperback
- Cover Finish: 280gsm, with anti-scuff matte laminate and spot UV gloss finish
- Weight: 700g approx.
- Over 230 pages that will help you enjoy pro cycling even more
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Answered a multitude of questions I had about the world of professional cycling, while keeping it easy reading – Peter Cossins manages to keep you interested and entertained without putting you to sleep.
The 'Pro's Perspective' sections add a level of authenticity
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
It felt like GCN and Peter Cossins were caught in two frames of mind: its lack of depth at times makes it less useful for the cycling cognoscenti, while the use of cycling jargon throughout makes it difficult for new fans.
On occasions I would have liked more depth to the writing, with a further breakdown (maybe some more stats/figures/etc.), although this would have turned the book into an encyclopaedia rather than a coffee-table book.
The use of white text for picture captions was poor and makes many of them hard to read.
Lack of index.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes, although I would prefer it as a gift
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Reading is both individual and selective – I have a few friends who would find it interesting
Use this box to explain your overall score
It's a fascinating read that offers an insight into the world of professional cycling, from race craft and tactics to bicycle design and income streams. Well worth reading if you enjoy watching the World Tour, UCI Continental Races or the UCI World Cup Series.
Age: 24 Height: 173 Weight: 72
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I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, general fitness riding,
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