'They called us monkeys': Groundbreaking book uncovers rich history of black cyclists as well as the racism they've faced

Published by Rapha Editions, 'Desire Discrimination Determination – Black Champions in Cycling' is the first of its kind in exploring the history of black cyclists

Black Champions In Cycling
(Image credit: Charlie Reynolds/Phil O'Connor)

A new cycling book is the first to uncover the history of black cyclists as well as the racism they've faced. 

'Desire Discrimination Determination – Black Champions in Cycling', written by Dr Marlon Moncrieffe, features the author's own experiences, research and interviews with various well-known black cyclists.

Published by Rapha Editions, the book features interviews with the likes of WorldTour pro Kévin Reza, Tre Whyte - a former British BMX national champion and brother of Tokyo Silver medalist Kye Whyte - Shanaze Reade, Justin Williams, and many more.

The book explores how these riders got into cycling, their time in the sport as well as the discrimination they faced.

Maurice Burton speaks on how a crowd booed him on the podium of the British championships, while Russell Williams believes a 'racist decision' was made to deny him a place in the Great Britain squad for the World Championships.

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"I beat the 10-mile race gold and silver medallists from the Commonwealth  Games to win the British championships," recalls Burton. "At the medal ceremony when I was holding the  flowers, some people in the crowd were booing. It wasn’t something that surprised me. It  was because of the colour of my skin."

"I found out that the riders behind me, in second and third place, were selected to go and represent Great Britain at the World Championships instead of me," said Williams. "All I can think of now is that it was a racist decision. If you are white, you get to go. If you are black, you get to stay at home."

French track cyclist Marie-Divine Kouamé Taky also shares a shocking experience of racism that happened when she was just 11 years old.

"They called us monkeys and told us to eat our bananas. At the time, I didn’t realise it was racism. I was not even aware of being different. It was at the age of 11, following these insults, that I understood racism. "

'Desire Discrimination Determination – Black Champions in Cycling' is available From August 17 and available to purchase from the Rapha webstore.

Jonny Long

Hi. I'm Cycling Weekly's Weekend Editor. I like writing offbeat features and eating too much bread when working out on the road at bike races.


Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab and I've also written for Vice, Time Out, and worked freelance for The Telegraph (I know, but I needed the money at the time so let me live).


I also worked for ITV Cycling between 2011-2018 on their Tour de France and Vuelta a España coverage. Sometimes I'd be helping the producers make the programme and other times I'd be getting the lunches. Just in case you were wondering - Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen had the same ham sandwich every day, it was great.