Books and information about Scottish cyclist Ian Steel

Wikipedia, the internet’s semi-reliable source of information, includes plenty of background on the Peace Race, his win’s effect back in Britain, and Steel’s ill-fated ride in the Tour de France in 1955.

Ian Steel’s results on cycling archives, which include the image above, has a database with data on his 1951 Tour of Britain win, and more historical information to be explored, including Tour of Britain stage wins.

William Fotheringham’s book, Roule Britannia covers a history of British racing cyclists in the Tour de France. Ian Steel, who rode for Viking Cycles but went to France as part of a cobbled-together Hercules Cycles team, went home after ignoring team orders to drop back and help a weaker teammate. There’s a review of the book by Ramin Minovi on the Association of British Cycling Coaches website.

History of Viking Cycles – an interesting trip down memory lane with some references to Ian and the 1955 team photo below.

Rouleur references a video of “Wyscig Pokoju 1952” (Peace Race 1952) , which has occasionally been available on YouTube.

In Herbie Sykes’ 2014 book The Race Against the Stasi, he profiles the influence of the Peace Race in communist East Europe and tells the story of how Dieter Wiedemann came to be the only man to ride both the Peace Race and the Tour de France. Ian Steel has a fairly brief mention in the book. Although he won the event –  a massive achievement – the story charts the power and influence of the communist party and the Stasi (its secret police) had over East German athletes, and how important their fame was in political propaganda.

Watch the video below to get a sense of the crowds – just for a stage start. Read the book and you’ll understand why they were so big.

Then the amount of spectators; there seemed to be seas of people everywhere. I’d been used to riding amateur races in Britain, and as often as not there was nobody watching. People back home had not the slightest understanding of how big a race this was, and there were no British cycling journalists there to inform them.