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The Secret Race: Inside the Hidden World of the Tour de France


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For anyone with an interest in cycling, the the Tour or the USADA investigation into Lance Armstrong, this book has become required reading. Tyler Hamilton was an integral part of the US Postal team that helped Lance Armstrong win his first few Tours de France. He decided to testify against Lance Armstrong and admit his own history of doping. This book is his public testimony.


This is yet another good prgression from the other cycling books I've read. If David Millars book gave me an insight into the doping culture in pro cycling, this book kicked the doors right open. Hamilton is forthright and honest about everything he did. He isn't accusatory, blowing the whistle on everyone and anyone, he is always making a point of placing his own indescrations on view first. He doesn't back down or try to hide from his own actions. Like David Millar, he makes his case for taking drugs rather well, but Hamilton is far more blase about it. It seems once he made his mind up, he went all in. I guess that was his personality.


I got a better understanding of how the drugs actually enhance a cyclists performance from this book too. You might think a doped rider can simply sprint away from a field of clean riders with ease and that's it, but in cycling it's actually a lot more perverse. The drugs don't make you a better, stronger athelete, they allow you to endure and suffer more. To feel more pain, go further beyound the physical limits. Yes, it's cheating, but the descriptions in this book highlighted to me, that it certainly wasn't easy. For example, Hamilton rode a stange in the Giro de Italia after crashing. To deal with the pain he gound his teeth and wore 11 of them down to nothing.


Through all of the cycling books, I'm glad to have been educated on the mechanics of the sport. How it is an individual sport, but the individual cannot possibly succeed without their team. Cycling fascinates me (especially the grand tours) because it is a test of physical endurance, mixed with the tactics of a three week long chess game.


This book was popular because of the revelations about Armstrong, but there is much more here. Hamilton is a likeable enough character, and to a certain extent you begin to side with him as the realisation falls that the problem is not necesarliy the individual doped riders, they are a by-product of the problems within the sport.

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  • 5 years later...

I picked this book up from the Oxfam book shop . a few days after Christmas.

This book is so open and honest about doping.  Despite knowing quite a lot of the background to the events, and an understanding of the doping culture in cycling; I still found this book fascinating.  It's well worth a read.

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