Herbie Sykes is an award-winning British sports writer and historian, specializing in the history of professional bike racing.
In 2005 he met with double Giro d'Italia winner Franco Balmamion. When Balmamion revealed the secrets of the extraordinary 1962 race, Sykes felt compelled to write the story. "The Eagle of the Canavese" appeared in May 2008, and was enthusiastically received. An antidote to the slew of Tour de France books which appear each summer, it was described by Cycling Weekly as "a gem of a book".
Sykes' second book, "Maglia Rosa - Triumph and Tragedy at the Giro d'Italia", was the first history of the race to appear in English. First published in March 2011, it received widespread critical acclaim. The Guardian wrote; "...A sumptuous history of the race accompanied by marvellously evocative photographs." It was the podiumcafe.com book of the year, and is viewed by historians and enthusiasts alike as a seminal work.
"Coppi - Inside the Legend of the Campionissimo", was released in November 2102. It told the story of Italy's greatest ever sportsman through the photography he provoked, and through the testimony of those who raced with him. It was shortlisted for the British Sports Book of the Year awards.
Sykes' fourth book was "The Race Against the Stasi". A biography of the defected East German cyclist Dieter Wiedemann, it examined the politicization of sport during the Cold War through the mythical Berlin-Warsaw-Prague Peace Race. Uniquely in the English language, it reproduced its subject's Stasi file. It was Cycling Book of the Year at the 2015 British Sports Book Awards, and was shortlisted in the Outstanding General Sports Writing category. The Guardian listed it as one of the sports books of the year.
In 2017 Rapha published "The Giro 100", a uniquely personal evocation of the race for pink. In realising it, Sykes collected testimony from 100 of the race’s constituents. For the most part they were the gregari and the nearly-men, their wives, families and tifosi. Then race officials, journalists, sponsors and volunteers. In a departure from cycling convention, they were invited to open their scrapbooks, family albums and cupboard drawers. Their testimony and photography conjures the spirit, pathos and beauty of the greatest show on earth, and of the lives conditioned by it.
Sykes lives in Italy, and has written for a number of cycling publications. They include Soigneur, Mondial, Rouleur and Pro Cycling. He also edited the official English language Giro d'Italia guide.