Author Andy McGrath’s work on the infamous British cyclist emerged as the best in a strong field of seven at the awards ceremony in London on Tuesday.
Speaking to the Express, McGrath said: “Of course my reaction is genuine shock, delight, disbelief. It’s fantastic.
“It was a little bit into the unknown. Most good projects have that unknown quantity and (publisher) Rapha clearly saw value in it in this book. It paid off.
“I’m aware of the history of the awards, with so many great writers who have won it.”
Tom Simpson: Bird On The Wire depicts the life of one of cycling’s more controversial characters.
Simpson died while competing in the 1967 Tour de France and was found to have performance enhancing drugs coursing through his system.
But as the beautifully designed book highlights, doping in cycling during the 1960s was nothing special.
McGrath, editor of Rouleur magazine, trawled through tons of archival footage – both in the UK and France – to dig out what he needed about Simpson.
“You don’t realise as a punter that we agonised over every photo selection, every caption,” he said.
“Was it right? Was it cliche? Has this been done before? We wanted the visual to fit with the text as well.
“Going to these places, talking to people and doing primary-source research at the French national library, through old newspapers and buying French cycling magazines on Ebay! And the British library too. This had to be comprehensively researched.
“With cycling there’s something romantic, nostalgic about it. That’s always appealed to me. And it’s incredibly hard!
“To ride those mountains at even half the speed of guys like Tom Simpson, it is very clear just how gruelling it is.”