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Wheelmen: Lance Armstrong, the Tour de France, and the Greatest Sports Conspiracy Ever

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The first in-depth look at Lance Armstrong's doping scandal, the phenomenal business success built on the back of fraud, and the greatest conspiracy in the history of sports Lance Armstrong won a record-smashing seven Tours de France after staring down cancer, and in the process became an international symbol of resilience and courage. In a sport constantly dogged by blood- The first in-depth look at Lance Armstrong's doping scandal, the phenomenal business success built on the back of fraud, and the greatest conspiracy in the history of sports Lance Armstrong won a record-smashing seven Tours de France after staring down cancer, and in the process became an international symbol of resilience and courage. In a sport constantly dogged by blood-doping scandals, he seemed above the fray. Then, in January 2013, the legend imploded. He admitted doping during the Tours and, in an interview with Oprah, described his "mythic, perfect story" as "one big lie." But his admission raised more questions than it answered—because he didn’t say who had helped him dope or how he skillfully avoided getting caught. The Wall Street Journal reporters Reed Albergotti and Vanessa O'Connell broke the news at every turn. In Wheelmen they reveal the broader story of how Armstrong and his supporters used money, power, and cutting-edge science to conquer the world’s most difficult race. Wheelmen introduces U.S. Postal Service Team owner Thom Weisel, who in a brazen power play ousted USA Cycling's top leadership and gained control of the sport in the United States, ensuring Armstrong’s dominance. Meanwhile, sponsors fought over contracts with Armstrong as the entire sport of cycling began to benefit from the "Lance effect." What had been a quirky, working-class hobby became the pastime of the Masters of the Universe set. Wheelmen offers a riveting look at what happens when enigmatic genius breaks loose from the strictures of morality. It reveals the competitiveness and ingenuity that sparked blood-doping as an accepted practice, and shows how the Americans methodically constructed an international operation of spies and revolutionary technology to reach the top. It went on to become a New York Times Bestseller, a Wall Street Journal Business Bestseller, and win numerous awards, including a Gold Medal for the Axiom Business Book Awards. At last exposing the truth about Armstrong and American cycling, Wheelmen paints a living portrait of what is, without question, the greatest conspiracy in the history of sports.


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The first in-depth look at Lance Armstrong's doping scandal, the phenomenal business success built on the back of fraud, and the greatest conspiracy in the history of sports Lance Armstrong won a record-smashing seven Tours de France after staring down cancer, and in the process became an international symbol of resilience and courage. In a sport constantly dogged by blood- The first in-depth look at Lance Armstrong's doping scandal, the phenomenal business success built on the back of fraud, and the greatest conspiracy in the history of sports Lance Armstrong won a record-smashing seven Tours de France after staring down cancer, and in the process became an international symbol of resilience and courage. In a sport constantly dogged by blood-doping scandals, he seemed above the fray. Then, in January 2013, the legend imploded. He admitted doping during the Tours and, in an interview with Oprah, described his "mythic, perfect story" as "one big lie." But his admission raised more questions than it answered—because he didn’t say who had helped him dope or how he skillfully avoided getting caught. The Wall Street Journal reporters Reed Albergotti and Vanessa O'Connell broke the news at every turn. In Wheelmen they reveal the broader story of how Armstrong and his supporters used money, power, and cutting-edge science to conquer the world’s most difficult race. Wheelmen introduces U.S. Postal Service Team owner Thom Weisel, who in a brazen power play ousted USA Cycling's top leadership and gained control of the sport in the United States, ensuring Armstrong’s dominance. Meanwhile, sponsors fought over contracts with Armstrong as the entire sport of cycling began to benefit from the "Lance effect." What had been a quirky, working-class hobby became the pastime of the Masters of the Universe set. Wheelmen offers a riveting look at what happens when enigmatic genius breaks loose from the strictures of morality. It reveals the competitiveness and ingenuity that sparked blood-doping as an accepted practice, and shows how the Americans methodically constructed an international operation of spies and revolutionary technology to reach the top. It went on to become a New York Times Bestseller, a Wall Street Journal Business Bestseller, and win numerous awards, including a Gold Medal for the Axiom Business Book Awards. At last exposing the truth about Armstrong and American cycling, Wheelmen paints a living portrait of what is, without question, the greatest conspiracy in the history of sports.

30 review for Wheelmen: Lance Armstrong, the Tour de France, and the Greatest Sports Conspiracy Ever

  1. 4 out of 5

    Laurie Anderson

    Lance Armstrong's 15 years of doping and lying about it is set out in this book with meticulous, disgusting detail. The authors were journalists for the Wall Street Journal. They put Armstrong's decisions to cheat, lie and commit fraud (aka stealing) in the larger contexts of the international cycling community, Armstrong's various business endeavors, including the Livestrong Foundation, and what they call the "Golden Age of Fraud" - a significant part of American culture today. Highly recommende Lance Armstrong's 15 years of doping and lying about it is set out in this book with meticulous, disgusting detail. The authors were journalists for the Wall Street Journal. They put Armstrong's decisions to cheat, lie and commit fraud (aka stealing) in the larger contexts of the international cycling community, Armstrong's various business endeavors, including the Livestrong Foundation, and what they call the "Golden Age of Fraud" - a significant part of American culture today. Highly recommended.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Loren Thacker

    This is a superb accounting of Lance Armstrong and his relationship with performance-enhancing drugs over the course of his ENTIRE professional bike racing career by two journalists from the Wall Street Journal. It is well-researched and well-written. For me, it closes the book on Lance Armstrong. I don't need to know anything more about him. He is now a non-entity to me, after years of foolishly believing him and of admiring his accomplishments. This is a superb accounting of Lance Armstrong and his relationship with performance-enhancing drugs over the course of his ENTIRE professional bike racing career by two journalists from the Wall Street Journal. It is well-researched and well-written. For me, it closes the book on Lance Armstrong. I don't need to know anything more about him. He is now a non-entity to me, after years of foolishly believing him and of admiring his accomplishments.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Trish

    We probably should have known better. When something is too good to be true… We were duped, but I feel like we need to take some of the blame. We wanted to believe in this level of sports competence…every year…for seven years…by a man who would be considered old in any other sport…and a cancer survivor. Okay, but enough about me. What surprised me about the information I learned here is Lance’s early home life. His mother never finished high school and was pregnant with Lance at sixteen when her We probably should have known better. When something is too good to be true… We were duped, but I feel like we need to take some of the blame. We wanted to believe in this level of sports competence…every year…for seven years…by a man who would be considered old in any other sport…and a cancer survivor. Okay, but enough about me. What surprised me about the information I learned here is Lance’s early home life. His mother never finished high school and was pregnant with Lance at sixteen when her father threw her out. Lance was an exceptional and driven athlete as an early teen, but when he wanted to compete in triathlons with strict age requirements that precluded his participation, his mother modified his birth certificate. So he learned early that the rules did not really apply to him. And that grasping behavior? When enough is never enough? I guess we know where that came from. I really disliked this book, not only because the writing is more breathless and sensational than it needed to be. The documents collected tell the story of a man who is immensely unappealing and manipulative and the worst sort of role model. We also learn something about the other folks involved in the sport: the teammates, the spouses, the officials, the medical staffs, the press. It was big business, and their business was to sell a product. I may have been a dupe, but I don’t believe for a second all those other folks were. Even when a former teammate came out with allegations, dates, remembrances of drug doping during races, it was still tricky to prove. One cannot help but feel just a little betrayed by all the folks that agreed to go along with this. They did it because “everyone else did.” Yes, the Tour de France is a hard race. And the world can be a tough place. At least they got to wear spandex in their work rather than body armor. O’Connell and Albergotti corral a huge amount of material for this exposé. Too much, really. A few less details and a little more reflection would have gone down better with this reader. The authors lacked the necessary narrative to allow us to place Lance’s megalomania in perspective. A character of this dimension is unusual and we the public could use a little help in dealing with the details of someone else's life choices, given his great talents. Is the lesson to strive, but not that much? Is celebrity addicting? Armstrong was not just an ordinary guy with a dirty little secret. This misses the size of his delusion, and ours. Forget Lance for a moment. In a sense, his future has already been written. What are our lessons? Did we do this? I listened to the Penguin Audio of this book, read by Santino Fontana. Fontana read well, though he is perhaps too gleeful in sections of heart-rending discovery. I supplemented listening with the text by Gotham Books, an appropriately-named publisher for a manuscript depicting characters with such outsized lives.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Johnrdavidson

    The story of Lance Armstrong cheating cycling, the media, his worldwide fans, and pretty much everyone in his path is now very old news. But the authors, while reporting for the Wall Street Journal (of all places!) were the first to break the story wide open. Other books about Lance cheating (via doping) came out last year (the one by his former teammate Tyler Hamilton) lifted the veil and gave us a lot of details, but Wheelmen is the first book to lay out a vivid chronology of Armstrong's 15 yea The story of Lance Armstrong cheating cycling, the media, his worldwide fans, and pretty much everyone in his path is now very old news. But the authors, while reporting for the Wall Street Journal (of all places!) were the first to break the story wide open. Other books about Lance cheating (via doping) came out last year (the one by his former teammate Tyler Hamilton) lifted the veil and gave us a lot of details, but Wheelmen is the first book to lay out a vivid chronology of Armstrong's 15 years of deception. Overall, it's a sad read. Armstrong comes off as a complete asshole, a win-at-any cost competitor who blows through nearly every meaningful relationship he's ever had. In fact, one of things that becomes apparent is that he's never been able to sustain any friendship that wasn't a financial or business relationship. He's a fierce loyalist and tonedeaf to criticism. His moral compass seems myopic and if he's got any true friends to guide him, we never learn whom they might be. The only vindication is that literally every other competitive cyclist of the past 20 years was likely doping. Armstrong seems to have just been the best at doping, which is, as others have noted, his overwhelming competitive strength: his ambition and drive to conquer is comparable to most other champions in the sporting world. He seems like he has an enviable iron will for almost anything other than humility.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Cate

    OK, I drank the Kool Aid: I read Lance's books, I wore the bracelet, I was inspired to ride the Pan Mass and raise money for cancer research, I bought the lies, I believed Lance was riding clean. I even read Floyd Landis' book and thought he got a raw deal. Yeah, well, what did I get from all that? Strong legs from riding, and a stupid tan line on my wrist - the rest was pure bullshit. Wheelmen masterfully breaks the story down, revealing just how far up the food chain the corruption went - all t OK, I drank the Kool Aid: I read Lance's books, I wore the bracelet, I was inspired to ride the Pan Mass and raise money for cancer research, I bought the lies, I believed Lance was riding clean. I even read Floyd Landis' book and thought he got a raw deal. Yeah, well, what did I get from all that? Strong legs from riding, and a stupid tan line on my wrist - the rest was pure bullshit. Wheelmen masterfully breaks the story down, revealing just how far up the food chain the corruption went - all the way, and just how many cyclists were involved - all of them. Even knowing the ending, it's worth reading, it's just a fascinating story of how things were run at the pro sport level. Years ago I read about how a pro cyclist will train so hard that his body ends up distorted to the point of ill health - enlarged lungs, weak upper bodies, etc., and the same could be said for pro cycling itself: the drugs, the underhanded deals struck in the peleton, the officials who look the other way because they need sponsorship dollars, all of this has warped the sport and chipped away at whatever integrity pro cycling might ever have had. Lance was indeed the King of the Mountain, but Wheelmen gives a full account of the man and the mountain, the public image and the reality, and it's a sobering ride.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Margaret

    I feel like this is the conclusion to a quadrilogy, from David Walsh's LA Confidentiel, Daniel Coyle's Lance Armstrong's War and [Whatever the Tyler Hamilton book was calle] and now this. It brings back all the sprawling supporting cast we knew and mostly despised and gives us the ending we saw coming but were afraid would never come to pass. I finished this with the satisfaction that my girlfriend fears will never come from Game of Thrones, and the characters are not dissimilar--I see a lot of I feel like this is the conclusion to a quadrilogy, from David Walsh's LA Confidentiel, Daniel Coyle's Lance Armstrong's War and [Whatever the Tyler Hamilton book was calle] and now this. It brings back all the sprawling supporting cast we knew and mostly despised and gives us the ending we saw coming but were afraid would never come to pass. I finished this with the satisfaction that my girlfriend fears will never come from Game of Thrones, and the characters are not dissimilar--I see a lot of Cersei in Kristen Armstrong, giving the boys their foil-wrapped testosterone patches. Unfortunately, there isn't really an Arya or a Tyrion to root for. USADA's Travis Tygart is sort of heroic I suppose, but he's no Khaleesi. Still, luxuriating in Armstrong's fall makes for delicious bathtime reading, whether you're a cycling nerd or not.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Eric Ruark

    This book is for you cyclists out there. This book is for all you spandexed, sweat covered weekend, after work cycling warriors who feel the need to experience the build up of lactic acid in your thighs and sting of sweat in your eyes. This book is for anyone who sat in awe and watched as Lance Armstrong with the US Postal team and later The Discovery Channel played a kind of cycling chess with the other top riders and teams of the world during seven successive Tours de France. This is the book This book is for you cyclists out there. This book is for all you spandexed, sweat covered weekend, after work cycling warriors who feel the need to experience the build up of lactic acid in your thighs and sting of sweat in your eyes. This book is for anyone who sat in awe and watched as Lance Armstrong with the US Postal team and later The Discovery Channel played a kind of cycling chess with the other top riders and teams of the world during seven successive Tours de France. This is the book that all of you who were caught up in the story of the rise and fall of Lance Armstrong need on your shelves. Authors Reed Albergotti and Vanessa O’Connell have put together a well-written, easy to follow story that traces how cyclists, wheelmen, from the late 1970s to the present, worked to put America back on the cycling map as a dominant sports power. This is the story of how a multinational conspiracy yielded its participants hundreds of millions of dollars over the course of a 24-year period. In its pages, the authors will sweep you from Austin, Texas, to Washington, D.C. to Nice, France, to St. Moritz, Switzerland to the switchbacks of some of the tallest peaks in the Alps. This book isn’t just about Lance Armstrong. It is about much more. In Abergotti and O’Connell’s own words, “This book arose from the more than one hundred interviews we conducted and many of the articles we wrote in The Wall Street Journal about Lance (Armstrong) and his take-no-prisoners war with former teammates, federal investigators, and anti-doping officials over accusations that he had doped to win the Tour de France. Our work for the Journal was focused on offering the first detailed accounts of the mechanics and culture of the US Postal Service team’s doping program... This book will allow you to see Lance close up -- from his turbulent teenage years to his ascent to the top of his sport, his battle with cancer, and the depths of his disgrace. You will find out what motivated him to take extreme risks and to chase seemingly impossible goals; what fueled his persistent lying and bullying, his contempt for others, and his vendettas against those who spoke the truth.” I was so incredibly pleased with this book on so many levels that I almost don’t know where to begin. And it wasn’t just the story and the superb crafting of the authors. I also have to give 5-stars to the editorial staff that produced this book. I am a cycling fan. I watched virtually all the races described in the pages and then some. Velonews and Cyclingfans have permanent spots on my ‘favorites’ tab on my laptop. But even I didn’t know all the players that Albergotti and O’Connell covered in their pages. The book begins with a marvelous, 5-page listing of the cast of characters and their relationship to either Lance or to cycling in general. As I was reading, it was easy to keep a finger there for quick reference. If I was unsure of a person, I could quickly check him or her out and get back to my chapter with a minimum of effort. Also, I’m also a nut for author’s chapter notes. The designers of this book made it ridiculously easy for me. Under the chapter heading, the main points covered are in BOLD print. This allowed me to quickly find and check the authors on various statement. For example under the heading of Chapter One, the BOLD headings read (in part) Details of the Tour de France state 13; USPS’s myopic focus on Armstrong; Landis’s physiological ability; Landis’s meeting with Novitzky and Tygart; The blood transfusions on the US Postal team; and Delivered Blood. Under each bold heading was the note. For example under “Delivered the Blood” you will find: Bruyneel’s assistant Geert Duffeleer brought the blood to a hotel room where the team was staying, before July 2004 transfusion, according to Landis’s second amended complaint for violations of the federal False Claims Act, February 2013...” I love stuff like this and in the kind of story that WHEELMEN is, the ability to check the authors quickly without loosing the thread of what I am reading just adds to the overall enjoyment of the book. This book is a real page turner. These authors have captured Lance Armstrong’s decades long deception and have unwoven the complicated logistics of the people who determined to keep it secret. You will meet the teammates, doctors, lawyers, financial backers, sponsors, assistants and associates who had a vested interest in Armstrong’s cheating ways and how they helped him cheat or, at least, turned a blind eye to what he was doing. But most interestingly, you will get a good look at Armstrong the man, and that, to me, was the most fascinating part of the book. It takes a special kind of man to slam the door on death and then rise to the top of his field and become a universal icon as a cancer survivor and a world class athlete. Read this book. You will not be disappointed.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jess Michaels

    Well that was fascinating and depressing.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Tim Mather

    Great book. I learned quite a bit about doping in pro cycling. I came away with the impression that in order to compete one had to dope. OK Additional thoughts... Lance Armstrong for President I just finished Wheelmen the new book on Lance Armstrong, doping, and the Tour de France. Lance Armstrong is a, competitor, winner, and risk taker. All this bullshit hand wringing about his doping is better directed at the organizations who allowed the sport to become the victim of ubiquitous doping, all the Great book. I learned quite a bit about doping in pro cycling. I came away with the impression that in order to compete one had to dope. OK Additional thoughts... Lance Armstrong for President I just finished Wheelmen the new book on Lance Armstrong, doping, and the Tour de France. Lance Armstrong is a, competitor, winner, and risk taker. All this bullshit hand wringing about his doping is better directed at the organizations who allowed the sport to become the victim of ubiquitous doping, all the sponsors, and lawyers, and doping doctors, who made millions off of Lance and who turned a blind eye to the obvious, in service to their own self-interest, without regard to the truth, or the health of their fellow human beings. Did Lance benefit from the scheme? Yes. But he rode the bike, none of the sponsors, hangers on, lawyers, or doctors rode the bike. He saw a flawed corrupt self-interested system and figured out how to use it to his best interest, to level the playing field n+1. This is completely analogues to our current American body politic. Is there an informed voter in this country who feels that a person can become President of the United States, Senator, or Mayor and not have to sell out, in small ways and large, to get there? And who is to blame? The voters of America who elect people to office that are invested in the current system and have no interest in reforming the pay to play system we have in place. And of course, once there is a little corruption, why not a bit more? If we can buy a table at your event for $3,000 in order to get a chance to talk with you, then why not form a PAC and give you $1.5 million in order to have influence on policy, which in turn will enrich me by $150,000,000, I mean, everybody wins, right? The book makes a big deal about how Lance was sometimes not a good friend, or how he pushed hard on people who were looking to undermine the status quo by making more public what everyone already knew, that doping was rampant in cycling. Lance does need to own that part of his history. But given the warrior spirit he brings to competition in general, it is a bit far fetched to think that he would roll over in this circumstance. So I say, Lance Armstrong for President. Let’s embrace fully the hypocrisy of our system, or reject it fully and change it.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    The word cheating according to Webster's Dictionary is to: act dishonestly or unfairly in order to gain an advantage, especially in a game or examination. Injecting a blood doping EPO hormone into his veins Lance Armstrong doped his way to seven Tour de France titles. This book Wheelman, gives us a concise overview of Lance Armstrong's career, the use of performance enhancing drugs, and his role in covering it up. Armstrong thought he could cheat his way to success yet get a pass because of the The word cheating according to Webster's Dictionary is to: act dishonestly or unfairly in order to gain an advantage, especially in a game or examination. Injecting a blood doping EPO hormone into his veins Lance Armstrong doped his way to seven Tour de France titles. This book Wheelman, gives us a concise overview of Lance Armstrong's career, the use of performance enhancing drugs, and his role in covering it up. Armstrong thought he could cheat his way to success yet get a pass because of the good he did for cancer patients. After revealing on Oprah in 2012 he was banned from competitive cycling for life and stripped of his seven Tour de France titles. The authors are not afraid to analyze Armstrong's character (a selfish bully who walks over people without blinking an eye) and the sad bottom line is that in the end he not only disrupted professional cycling, he also betrayed those millions of cancer patients who believed in him, not realizing that he just conveniently used them to sell more books and increase his personal wealth. The book can be dry in places and leaves you dangling by your handlebar for wanting more information on a particular event. Yet, I was convinced after reading it that Armstrong was a cheat and a liar but I knew that already.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Monica

    Interesting, fact filled and biased. I enjoyed the book quite a bit. I did not understand the extent of the proof and the background during the Lance Armstrong debacle. Armstrong behind the scenes was the antithesis of what he projected to the public in terms of character. He was a bully; tyrannical and manipulative and just downright mean-spirited. Hurt people simply because...shiny. He also was an extremely intelligent and gifted athlete unencumbered by a conscience who did everything he could Interesting, fact filled and biased. I enjoyed the book quite a bit. I did not understand the extent of the proof and the background during the Lance Armstrong debacle. Armstrong behind the scenes was the antithesis of what he projected to the public in terms of character. He was a bully; tyrannical and manipulative and just downright mean-spirited. Hurt people simply because...shiny. He also was an extremely intelligent and gifted athlete unencumbered by a conscience who did everything he could to stay on top. Arrogant? Yes to the extreme. But I have always thought that arrogance is a good thing as long as you can back it up. And Lance could. His narcissism and hubris is what ultimately cost him everything. My opinion on the doping is nuanced. Everyone in the cycling world doped. It's always been obvious that Lance doped. The winners on winning teams had to dope because the other teams were doping as well. It was a self perpetuating machine. Young riders did not even get the choice, they were compelled to dope or get out of the sport. I don't know any young person with enough life under their belt to make that kind of character driven decision on the basis of experience or morality. Lance ultimately crumbled because he tried to bully and extort the USADA. A stupid and deluded decision on his part. He has an 8 year suspension from pro sports in the prime of his health and ability to compete. And he lost all of his corporate sponsors. If he had owned up to the doping some 6 mos earlier, he would have only lost two yellow jerseys and been suspended for 6 mos. He thought (incorrectly) he could extort through the court of public opinion. The book itself is quite clinical with the presentation of facts and somewhat lacks emotion. But there are parts that are emotionally written with heaving amounts of judgement. Though they seem to have tried to edit out some of it, but there are moments of obvious contempt for Armstrong. The writer admits to receiving more than one personal slight from Armstrong. I found the epilogue compelling where the writer poses a question. Albergotti said Millions persisted in believing in him until it became impossible not to do so. Why? I can personally attest to the people believing until he went on Oprah. As a member of the cycling community there were many heated discussions with people simply disregarding facts. I remember hearing how he never tested positive (a huge lie perpetrated by repeating the lie over and over again). Albergotti limits his comments to Americans and says But society's gullibility in the face of ever-mounting evidence probably has something to do with its need for a certain kind of hero. Of course, celebrity worshiping, greed and the opportunity to profit off of the fantasy ie money was too much to resist (and the Armstrong mythology made a lot of people a lot of money). Albergotti goes on to say, and I think that this speaks directly to our current political climate and state of America today This is the Golden Age of fraud, an era of general willingness to ignore and justify the wrongdoings of the rich and powerful, which makes every lie bigger and widens its destructive path. 4 Stars Edited to add: This book centered on the Lance Armstrong case more than doping in the world of cycling. For a more nuanced and personal understanding of doping in the professional cycling world, I highly recommend The Secret Race: Inside the Hidden World of the Tour de France: Doping, Cover-ups, and Winning at All Costs.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Sue Jackson

    As someone who has followed the Tour de France for many years, what is stated in this book was not a surprise. It was, however, a well documented and written account of not only what was common knowledge but also the behind-the-scenes activities of Lance Armstrong and the other bikers. The list of people that were aware that he and the other cyclists were using banned substances is amazing. Somehow his teams, the other cyclists, sponsors, and even those in charge of regulating were able to keep As someone who has followed the Tour de France for many years, what is stated in this book was not a surprise. It was, however, a well documented and written account of not only what was common knowledge but also the behind-the-scenes activities of Lance Armstrong and the other bikers. The list of people that were aware that he and the other cyclists were using banned substances is amazing. Somehow his teams, the other cyclists, sponsors, and even those in charge of regulating were able to keep this secret from the general public. This book clearly shows just how well Lance was able to manipulate to get his way. It also shows how close the cycling community is and how far they go to protect their own. It is sad that so many of us were led to believe in the fairy tale that Lance spun. That he was the cancer survivor that made a great comeback and legally won the Tour de France over and over again. It is even more tragic that the foundation he set up to benefit cancer survivors was largely based on a lie. When these facts became more evident (even before his confession on Oprah), his life fell apart. Unfortunately, so did the strength of the Livestrong Foundation. This is a very interesting book that very clearly shows how the cycling community works. It touches on the training and preparation for tours as well as the personal connections. Mostly, it shows how one powerful man is able to control the behavior of others. It's a great good about a sad story.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Quiltgranny

    I started reading this book, thinking it would take a while. Instead, I gulped it down in an almost non-stop session, breaking only for bathroom breaks and sustenance. I am one of the fools drawn in by Mr. Armstrong and crew (as well as then entire bicycling sport) since I discovered it in 1997. One of the other reviewers basically said it all so I will quote him here (Loren Thacker Goodreads reviewer) "This is a superb accounting of Lance Armstrong and his relationship with performance-enhancing I started reading this book, thinking it would take a while. Instead, I gulped it down in an almost non-stop session, breaking only for bathroom breaks and sustenance. I am one of the fools drawn in by Mr. Armstrong and crew (as well as then entire bicycling sport) since I discovered it in 1997. One of the other reviewers basically said it all so I will quote him here (Loren Thacker Goodreads reviewer) "This is a superb accounting of Lance Armstrong and his relationship with performance-enhancing drugs over the course of his ENTIRE professional bike racing career by two journalists from the Wall Street Journal. It is well-researched and well-written. For me, it closes the book on Lance Armstrong. I don't need to know anything more about him. He is now a non-entity to me, after years of foolishly believing him and of admiring his accomplishments." And then I will add a famous line from Kevin O'Leary from Shark Tank - "he's dead to me."

  14. 4 out of 5

    Chuck Hughes

    I couldn't put this book down. I'm a cyclist and followed, supported, and pulled for Lance (and other American professional cyclists) for many years. Like many others, I believed his lies. I thought "no way after beating cancer would he dope." Like many others, I was wrong. This book does an amazing job not only showing how Lance (and his retinue) pulled the wool over so many eyes for well over 15 years, but it gives great insight into the man himself. It shows how much of a monster and a sociop I couldn't put this book down. I'm a cyclist and followed, supported, and pulled for Lance (and other American professional cyclists) for many years. Like many others, I believed his lies. I thought "no way after beating cancer would he dope." Like many others, I was wrong. This book does an amazing job not only showing how Lance (and his retinue) pulled the wool over so many eyes for well over 15 years, but it gives great insight into the man himself. It shows how much of a monster and a sociopath he truly is, willing to do anything, step on anybody, ruin anyone's life, simply to feed his ego. It's a shame. It's also a very well written book. It doesn't matter if you've never ridden a bike, never watched a professional bike race, or if terms like bonk, breakaway, tete de la course, and maillot jaune are part of your everyday lexicon, this book is worth reading.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Scott Fletcher

    Absolutely fantastic book - worth a read if you're at all interested in knowing the lengths some people go to to win. After reading the book, I was left with just one question: could Lance Armstrong be a sociopath? His willingness to not just cast aside, but in some cases to destroy the people who helped him achieve success shows not just a mean streak, but a complete and total lack of empathy. He isn't, however, the mastermind behind doping in cycling; the book made clear that there can never b Absolutely fantastic book - worth a read if you're at all interested in knowing the lengths some people go to to win. After reading the book, I was left with just one question: could Lance Armstrong be a sociopath? His willingness to not just cast aside, but in some cases to destroy the people who helped him achieve success shows not just a mean streak, but a complete and total lack of empathy. He isn't, however, the mastermind behind doping in cycling; the book made clear that there can never be just one finger pointed and that the depth at which this corruption has in penetrated into professional cycling negates any hope that every person behind this operation will be persecuted. Although Lance is now being brought to at least some semblance of justice, there are many more people that deserve to be made to answer for their actions.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ami McMullen

    Really good, detailed account of EVERYTHING that happened over the years. Lance wasn't the only one cheating, but he was the biggest ass about it. Very interesting read! Really good, detailed account of EVERYTHING that happened over the years. Lance wasn't the only one cheating, but he was the biggest ass about it. Very interesting read!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Bruce

    Enjoyed first 300 pages, then bogged down a bit with legal wrangling. Lance still won, was an ass, but is a cancer survivor, c0-founder of Livestrong and oddly a hero. Well written.

  18. 4 out of 5

    ambimb

    Was the Lance Armstrong doping program the biggest conspiracy in the history of sports? That seems doubtful, but it certainly was vast, complex, and long-lived. For fans of cycling, this book is a must-read for multiple reasons. First, it provides a terrific mini-history of professional cycling in the United States. I have never thought about that history too closely, but this book clearly explains why and how cycling was little more than a recreational activity in the U.S. before Greg Lemond, a Was the Lance Armstrong doping program the biggest conspiracy in the history of sports? That seems doubtful, but it certainly was vast, complex, and long-lived. For fans of cycling, this book is a must-read for multiple reasons. First, it provides a terrific mini-history of professional cycling in the United States. I have never thought about that history too closely, but this book clearly explains why and how cycling was little more than a recreational activity in the U.S. before Greg Lemond, and how it grew, largely thanks to Lance Armstrong and all the people who helped him rise to seven victories in the world's greatest race. But in addition to that history, this book provides the details of how the conspiracy worked and why it was so effective for so long. Having read "The Secret Race" by Tyler Hamilton, I already understood fairly well the details of the doping and how the riders did it and went undetected. What that book does not discuss at all is the fact that Armstrong's supporters used their money and influence to take control of the US cycling organizations that might have regulated pro riders and stopped doping, and they also ended up with a lot of influence over the main players at the UCI, the international regulatory body for cycling. The fact that Lance and his teammates had friends in such high places (and friends with so much money) meant that they received far more leeway in testing and interpretation of test results than other people did, and that allowed them to get away with doping to a far greater extent than anyone else. It's also clear from this book that Nike, Oakley, and Trek were complicit in the whole thing, at least to the extent that they funded all of the Armstrong machine's nefarious activities without ever questioning them. There's no clear evidence here that people at these companies knew what was happening, but they never asked and just kept throwing money at the machine because it helped them make so much money for themselves. It's hard to have any sympathy or respect for Armstrong after reading this book. Sure, everyone was doping. No doubt. Everyone is still doping, most likely. But no one has ever lied about it as much as Armstrong and his people, and no one has ever been as aggressive, personal, mean, and hypocritical in attacking anyone who dared to question whether doping was a factor in an athlete's success. That aggression and meanness went along way to keep the doping secret, but that only makes it worse now that the truth is out. Before reading this I agreed with Lance that a lifetime ban on competition was excessive. I still think it's unnecessary, but I also sort of understand it now. It's shocking how fast and how far Armstrong fell. This book estimates he lost $75 million in sponsorships on a single day when USADA published its "reasons" for stripping him of his titles. (And, it's important to note, USADA never would have published all that evidence if Lance hadn't continued to deny and denigrate Tygart and USADA. The details came out because USADA exercised its right to refute misstatements and public denials. If Lance had just shut up, he might have been ok...) But while his fall is shocking and sad, it was richly deserved. At this point it's hard to imagine how Lance Armstrong is surviving and for that reason, despite all the bad things he's done, I still think the lifetime ban is too much. He's basically been destroyed. Allowing him to compete now wouldn't hurt anyone. And the truth remains that for all the bad he did for cycling, he did more good for it in the long run than bad simply because he made it a legitimate and viable sport in the U.S. and raised its profile around the world. Yes, how he did that was bad, but the positive effect of it outweighs the bad. That's not an excuse; it's simply a fact.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Isabelle Duchaine

    I don't usually read sports books - and I have barely ridden a bike in over a decade. I was helping a friend clean out his apartment and he was donating Wheelmen, so I picked it up. I remember PEAK Lance Armstrong - I think I had a Livestrong bracelet - and I remember his downfall and theb public backlash. But man - Lance is a huge jerk! A huuuuge jerk. And this book does a good job giving an overview of the cast of characters (they are almost all dudes), their motivations and the pressures to w I don't usually read sports books - and I have barely ridden a bike in over a decade. I was helping a friend clean out his apartment and he was donating Wheelmen, so I picked it up. I remember PEAK Lance Armstrong - I think I had a Livestrong bracelet - and I remember his downfall and theb public backlash. But man - Lance is a huge jerk! A huuuuge jerk. And this book does a good job giving an overview of the cast of characters (they are almost all dudes), their motivations and the pressures to win. Lance comes across as a huge jerk.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    The four star rating is due entirely to the content. It would be five stars except for the writing style, which I found choppy and disjointed (especially through the middle of the book). As an avid cyclist, I find the story if professional cycling so utterly uninspiring. During the height of the lance phase, I was never drawn to watch the tour or take any interest in him personally. When my mom was going through cancer treatments, I read the "it's not about the bike" biography, and although it w The four star rating is due entirely to the content. It would be five stars except for the writing style, which I found choppy and disjointed (especially through the middle of the book). As an avid cyclist, I find the story if professional cycling so utterly uninspiring. During the height of the lance phase, I was never drawn to watch the tour or take any interest in him personally. When my mom was going through cancer treatments, I read the "it's not about the bike" biography, and although it was supposed to be inspirational, I even found him to be a jerk in that book. The impression I felt he gave was that you would overcome cancer if you tried harder and were more disciplined than others. I am sure I had some personal bias, but I didn't think he was a great role model for cancer survivorship even before I knew about his phenomenal lying. I think this was a fascinating account of how big business (and people who's primary concern is self-interest and self-promotion) completely ruins a sport that at its heart inspires freedom and lightness of spirit, courage and determination.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ralph

    I had to read this book to find out just how we could have all been fooled for so long. I enjoyed it very much because it sounded to me like we were finally getting to hear the real story. I liked how it started at the very beginning and told the whole story in great detail. So the main answer for how we were fooled is that apparently drug testing is not as reliable as one would think! Just like politics, I guess you have to follow the money to get the real story. So many people had so much to lo I had to read this book to find out just how we could have all been fooled for so long. I enjoyed it very much because it sounded to me like we were finally getting to hear the real story. I liked how it started at the very beginning and told the whole story in great detail. So the main answer for how we were fooled is that apparently drug testing is not as reliable as one would think! Just like politics, I guess you have to follow the money to get the real story. So many people had so much to lose that the whole scam was kept going for am amazingly long amount of time. Most disturbing to me was the apparent corruption of the UCI in looking the other way. Funny that I seem to retain too much trust in official organizations, even after so many failures. It was very eye-opening that such a vast conspiracy was kept under wraps for such a long time.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ashwini

    detailed. very detailed to the point of boredom. could have been shorter by 100-150 pages and yet carried the story. it's not a one man show. it never is, to pull something at this level for 7 long years. the greed of many people, cos, agencies, collectives, need to be working in a synchronised if not collusive manner. Armstrong could not have done this without their complicit. yes he was driven by his own reasons which could have been tempered down, but then in his eyes he was trying to break i detailed. very detailed to the point of boredom. could have been shorter by 100-150 pages and yet carried the story. it's not a one man show. it never is, to pull something at this level for 7 long years. the greed of many people, cos, agencies, collectives, need to be working in a synchronised if not collusive manner. Armstrong could not have done this without their complicit. yes he was driven by his own reasons which could have been tempered down, but then in his eyes he was trying to break into a level playing field, where he had a chance. he was to my mind fighting for a chance which he yearned for, from his childhood.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Astrid

    Well written analysis of how the business machine of "Lance Inc." spiraled into the greatest sports conspiracy ever. Well written analysis of how the business machine of "Lance Inc." spiraled into the greatest sports conspiracy ever.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Andi

    This book tried to summarize US-cycling during Armstrong era, but it didn't really capture the essence of the sport, Tour de France or Lance Armstrong. In my opinion, there are better books on the subject, such as Tyler Hamilton's The Secret Race: Inside the Hidden World of the Tour de France and David Walsh's Seven Deadly Sins: My Pursuit of Lance Armstrong. Tour de France is the most devastating, grueling sporting event on the face of the Earth. When cyclists finish the Tour they are osteopeni This book tried to summarize US-cycling during Armstrong era, but it didn't really capture the essence of the sport, Tour de France or Lance Armstrong. In my opinion, there are better books on the subject, such as Tyler Hamilton's The Secret Race: Inside the Hidden World of the Tour de France and David Walsh's Seven Deadly Sins: My Pursuit of Lance Armstrong. Tour de France is the most devastating, grueling sporting event on the face of the Earth. When cyclists finish the Tour they are osteopenic, their bone density has eroded, they've lost so much fat and muscle mass that if you look at their faces they seem to have aged 10 years. Professional cyclists are in a league of their own, they're some of the toughest athletes out there in terms of workload, ability to endure pain and physiological torture for a long stretch of time. No drug or steroid is going to completely ameliorate that, but if we watch these guys kill themselves riding 6 hours a day for 3 weeks straight, hitting max threshold of 6 watts per kilo, thinking there's anything physiologically reasonable about that, we're out to effing lunch. Fact is that from early 90's until early 10's everyone doped, including 5-time champion Miguel Indurain, Bjarne Riis, Jan Ullrich, Marco Pantani, Floyd Landis, Alberto Contador etc. Armstrong won all those races against a horde of cheating competitors and teams. Had he NOT doped, then another doper would have won the Tour, that's the truth. That Lance won 7 of those Tours in that context, it tells me that he was training harder and being more specific to the race than anyone else. What people don't understand is that Lance doped to peak for one race a year. Everything that US Postal team did was geared for that one race. I'm not saying that doping wouldn't help, it would help a lot, but that was nothing compared to what people were doing before Lance came along. Bjarne Riis for example was called Mr. 60% because his hematocrit (oxygen carrying capacity) was always over 60% (Lance to my knowledge never went above 50%). How Bjarne Riis didn't die of a stroke, I still don't know. Oh and he’s still considered a Tour winner whereas Lance isn’t. A lot of people critique Lance Armstrong saying he destroyed people's lives. How many lives did he actually destroy? For every single one you could show thousands that benefitted from - Livestrong was able to raise hundreds of millions, the Tour gained in popularity, Trek 10x'd their sales, Nike, Oakley, Dura Ace all massively benefited from their association and sponsorship of Lance. They were all complicit and knew what was going on.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Rena Sherwood

    After Lance Armstrong admitted to Oprah (and the rest of the world) that he'd lied since the early 1990s, my Mom got a pair of scissors and cut her LIVESTRONG armband to shreds. My Mom is an ovarian cancer survivor and she was quite upset. For that reason alone, Lance Armstrong is a POS. However, his downfall is amazingly entertaining. If you are going to be a living train wreck, you may as well be the biggest wreck in sports. And this is a page-turner. I kept thinking to myself, "I'll just read o After Lance Armstrong admitted to Oprah (and the rest of the world) that he'd lied since the early 1990s, my Mom got a pair of scissors and cut her LIVESTRONG armband to shreds. My Mom is an ovarian cancer survivor and she was quite upset. For that reason alone, Lance Armstrong is a POS. However, his downfall is amazingly entertaining. If you are going to be a living train wreck, you may as well be the biggest wreck in sports. And this is a page-turner. I kept thinking to myself, "I'll just read one more page" and suddenly three chapters have breezed by. That the text is comfortably large for my old eyes also helped. I also liked the Notes section where the authors name sources (even if the source name was Unnamed Source.) At least the two authors give you enough information to fact-check (should you so wish. I'm going to go out on a limb and take their word for it.) The only thing I didn't like was that this came out soon after the wreck was revealed. I can understand that the publishers and writers want to get the story out while the news was hot but sadly there is no proper ending since many lawsuits were still going on at the time of publication. The amazing thing was just how big the conspiracy was. Lance didn't get to be a train wreck all by his "kneel before Zod!"-like self. And the real kicker was that Lance probably would have gotten away with it IF HE ONLY stopped at three Tour de France wins. The race officials let him know on no uncertain terms that new drug tests were coming for the next year. What burns my toast is that Armstrong still has a house, still gets to see his kids and still lives comfortably. If life were just, this guy would be huddled under a bridge all night with wide-open eyes until his face freezes into one solid chunk of ice -- kind of like his heart. (And yes -- I'm bitter. I don't need to go on Oprah to admit that.) There are heroes out there -- or at least flawed people who are decent enough to admit they did wrong and want to make amends. And Irish writer David Walsh must have balls the size of Olympus Mons to keep on saying that Lance was cheating when everyone else told him to sit down and shut up. Well done, David Walsh.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Timojhen

    While there may not have been a lot new in this book, it was a great collection of the events. I appreciate that the timeline was clear and this connected events more effectively than many descriptions I’ve read. I’m more interested in this point in Volume 2 - the redemption. I’ve always had a soft spot for the human ability to dig incredibly deep holes, then somehow find their way back out. Politicians, thieves and star athleles - the hubris of the ego is unstoppable. Now to see how he manages l While there may not have been a lot new in this book, it was a great collection of the events. I appreciate that the timeline was clear and this connected events more effectively than many descriptions I’ve read. I’m more interested in this point in Volume 2 - the redemption. I’ve always had a soft spot for the human ability to dig incredibly deep holes, then somehow find their way back out. Politicians, thieves and star athleles - the hubris of the ego is unstoppable. Now to see how he manages life going forward... Perhaps the lawsuit this spring will bring some humility and contrition? One can certainly watch and wonder....

  27. 5 out of 5

    Todd Wilhelm

    This was a good book but I liked Tyler Hamilton's "The Secret Race" better. Hamilton gave more of inside view of the cycler's world. Wheelmen was more of a history of Armstrong; the investigation and legal proceedings. I recommend reading them both and then you will have a thorough picture of all that transpired. This was a good book but I liked Tyler Hamilton's "The Secret Race" better. Hamilton gave more of inside view of the cycler's world. Wheelmen was more of a history of Armstrong; the investigation and legal proceedings. I recommend reading them both and then you will have a thorough picture of all that transpired.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Steve Granger

    Wheelman is a broader approach to the doping scandals in cycling, which hit somewhat of a climax with the remarkable downfall of Lance Armstrong. I was happy to see the authors consider what should be taken away from it all and seriously reconcile with the fact that it came down to more than just some bad apples.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Michael Brown

    Unbelievable story behind the rise and fall of Lance Armstrong and those around him. Incredibly thorough and detailed.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Denise Apland

    Great title and book cover The authors fault all of those concerned in LA's rise and fall for making money off of him but they are part of the pack! I did like the book and watched Lance's TDF races on you tube while reading. Breathtaking and astonishing don't care who was doping actually. Recommend book and REALLY recommend races. Great title and book cover The authors fault all of those concerned in LA's rise and fall for making money off of him but they are part of the pack! I did like the book and watched Lance's TDF races on you tube while reading. Breathtaking and astonishing don't care who was doping actually. Recommend book and REALLY recommend races.

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