Found in: Cyclescreen
Herbie Sykes: The Race Against The Stasi

Herbie Sykes: The Race Against The Stasi

Cyclescreen: Bristol Bike Film Festival

Talk

Please note: This event took place in Aug 2015

Cycling author and journalist Herbie Sykes talks to Jack Thurston, presenter of The Bike Show Podcast, about his award winning book - the acclaimed account of the life of East German racing cyclist Dieter Wiedemann who in 1964 rode the Peace Race under socialism and Stasi surveillance before dramatically defecting to the West.

When the Iron Curtain descended across Europe after WWII, Dieter Wiedemann was a hero of East German cycle sport and a pin up for the supremacy of socialism over the fascist West. As a famous athlete his every move was pored over by the Stasi - the secret police agency of the German Democratic Republic. Through cycling and the Peace Race, sport came to be seen by the GDR as the way to transmit the socialist message, to build state heroes within the nation and to spread the word internationally. Only Dieter abhorred their ideology. Unbeknown to the authorities he had fallen in love with Sylvia Hermann, a girl from the other side of the Berlin Wall. In Sylvia, he saw his chance of freedom and, in a deadly game of cat and mouse, he plotted his escape. In 1964, Dieter Wiedemann, sporting icon and Soviet pawn, committed the most treacherous crime against socialism - he defected. A decision, amidst the resulting scandal, that would have horrific consequences for Dieter and the family that he had left behind.

50 years on, Herbie discusses how he uncovered this astonishing tale, one of love and betrayal, the madness at the heart of the Cold War and of The Peace Race - arguably the greatest bike race in history.

Herbie Sykes is a cycling journalist and author specialising in the history of road bike racing. His books include The Eagle of the Canavese, a biography of the Italian cyclist Franco Balmamion; Maglia Rosa, an illustrated history of the Giro d'Italia and the critically acclaimed Coppi, a collection of photography supported by testimony of the great Italian cyclist. The Race Against The Stasi is critically acclaimed and was winner of cycling book of the year at the British Sports Book Awards.