When, during the Pyrenean stages of the 1998 Tour de France, a journalist asked Marco Pantani why he rode so fast in the mountains, the elfin Italian, unmistakeable in the bandanna and hooped ear-rings that played up to his "Pirate" nickname, replied: "To shorten my agony."
Drawing on the fervour for these men of the mountains, Climbers looks at what sets these athletes apart within the world of bike racing, about why we love and cherish them, how they make cycling beautiful, and how they see themselves and the feats they achieve.
Working chronologically, Peter Cossins explores the evolution of mountain-climbing. He offers a comprehensive view of the sport, combining contemporary reports with fresh one-to-one interviews with high-profile riders from the last 50 years, such as Cyrille Guimard, Hennie Kuiper and Andy Schleck. And, unlike many other cycling books, Climbers also includes the stories of female racers across the world, from Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio and Annemiek van Vleuten to Fabiana Luperini and Amanda Spratt.
Climbers analyses the personalities of these racers, highlighting the individuality of climbing as an exercise and the fundamental fact that it's a solitary challenge undertaken in relentlessly unforgiving terrain that requires unremitting effort.
Captivating and iconic, Climbers is the ultimate cycling book to understand what it takes both physically and mentally to take on the sport's hardest stages.