The Secret Race
Inside the Hidden World of the Tour de France: Doping, Cover-ups, and Winning at All Costs
The Secret Race is a definitive look at the world of professional cycling—and the doping issue surrounding this sport and its most iconic rider, Lance Armstrong—by former Olympic gold medalist Tyler Hamilton and Daniel Coyle.
Over the course of two years, Coyle conducted more than two hundred hours of interviews with Hamilton and spoke candidly with numerous teammates, rivals, and friends. The result is an explosive book that takes us, for the first time, deep inside a shadowy, fascinating, and surreal world of unscrupulous doctors, anything-goes team directors, and athletes so relentlessly driven to succeed that they would do anything—and take any risk, physical, mental, or moral—to gain the edge they need to win.
Tyler Hamilton was once one of the world’s best-liked and top-ranked cyclists—a fierce competitor renowned among his peers for his uncanny endurance and epic tolerance for pain. In the 2003 Tour de France, he finished fourth despite breaking his collarbone in the early stages—and grinding eleven of his teeth down to the nerves along the way. He started his career with the U.S. Postal Service team in the 1990s and quickly rose to become Lance Armstrong’s most trusted lieutenant, and a member of his inner circle. For the first three of Armstrong’s record seven Tour de France victories, Hamilton was by Armstrong’s side, clearing his way. But just weeks after Hamilton reached his own personal pinnacle—winning the gold medal at the 2004 Olympics—his career came to a sudden, ignominious end: He was found guilty of doping and exiled from the sport.
From the exhilaration of his early, naïve days in the peloton, Hamilton chronicles his ascent to the uppermost reaches of this unforgiving sport. In the mid-1990s, the advent of a powerful new blood-boosting drug called EPO reshaped the world of cycling, and a relentless, win-at-any-cost ethos took root. Its psychological toll would drive many of the sport’s top performers to substance abuse, depression, even suicide. For the first time ever, Hamilton recounts his own battle with clinical depression, speaks frankly about the agonizing choices that go along with the decision to compete at a world-class level, and tells the story of his complicated relationship with Lance Armstrong.
A journey into the heart of a never-before-seen world, The Secret Race is a riveting, courageous act of witness from a man who is as determined to reveal the hard truth about his sport as he once was to win the Tour de France.
Praise For The Secret Race
“The holy grail for disillusioned cycling fans . . . The book’s power is in the collective details, all strung together in a story that is told with such clear-eyed conviction that you never doubt its veracity. . . . The Secret Race isn’t just a game changer for the Lance Armstrong myth. It’s the game ender.”—Outside
“Loaded with bombshells and revelations.”—VeloNews
“[An] often harrowing story . . . the broadest, most accessible look at cycling’s drug problems to date.”—The New York Times
“ ‘If I cheated, how did I get away with it?’ That question, posed to SI by Lance Armstrong five years ago, has never been answered more definitively than it is in Tyler Hamilton’s new book.”—Sports Illustrated
“Explosive.”—The Daily Telegraph (London)
Lance Armstrong’s War
One Man’s Battle Against Fate, Fame, Love, Death, Scandal, and a Few Other Rivals on the Road to the Tour de France
Daniel Coyle’s New York Times bestseller Lance Armstrong’s War takes a fascinating, in-depth look at a staggeringly talented yet flawed sports hero as he faced his greatest test: a record sixth straight Tour de France victory.
Now with a new epilogue covering Armstrong’s quest to win an 8th Tour de France, this “intimate, insightful, unflinching look at the greatest athlete of our time” (Jon Krakauer) explores the remarkable drive and accomplishments of a controversial champion—a must read for fans of John Feinstein and David Halberstam, as well as readers of Lance Armstrong’s own It’s Not About the Bike and Every Second Counts.
Praise For Lance Armstrong’s War
“A velvety mix of vivid, sophisticated prose, Raymond Carver’s unerring eye for nuance, and John Irving’s irreverent, unflinching humor….An intimate look inside the maelstrom of professional cycling.”
When an athlete is as celebrated as Lance Armstrong, journalists tend to approach either with staggering awe or malicious schadenfreude. Refreshingly, Coyle (Hardball) displays neither. The journalist moved to Armstrong’s training base in Spain to cover the months leading up to the cyclist’s sixth Tour de France victory in 2004, and the resulting comfort level of Coyle with his subject is palpable. Armstrong emerges from these pages as neither the cancer-surviving saint his American fans admire, nor the soulless, imperialist machine his European detractors hate. Instead, he comes across as a preternaturally gifted athlete barely removed from the death-defying hellion he was as a teenager, fanatically disciplined, gregarious and generous but with a legendarily icy temper. Coyle sweeps over the basics of Armstrong’s Texas childhood and fight with cancer, concentrating on his obsessive training—this is a sport where results are measured in ounces and microseconds. He’s sometimes too loose with his writing, digressing as though he had all the time in the world, but he tightens up for the grand finale: the Tour. This work is honest, personal and passionate, with plenty to chew on for fans and novices alike. – Publisher’s Weekly
*Starred Review* “He seems so simple from a distance,” one cyclist described teammate Lance Armstrong. “But the closer you get, the more you realize–this is one very, very complicated guy.” If Linda Armstrong Kelly’s No Mountain High Enough (2005) revealed the impetus for son Lance’s drive to succeed (anger at absent dad, support from overachieving mom), and Lance’s own It’s Not about the Bike (2000) revealed the medical odds he has courageously overcome, Coyle’s excellent portrait of the six-time (and counting) Tour de France winner places Armstrong fully in his own element: the road to his victory in the 2004 Tour. The world knows, perhaps ad nauseam, Armstrong’s uncommon will to prevail–“Lance wishes to swallow the world,” as his trainer put it–but Coyle’s account also shows a laser-sharp managerial style, in the face of monumental distractions, that would be the envy of any Fortune 500 CEO. Coyle, a former senior editor of Outside magazine, also gives full coverage of Armstrong’s extensive support team, his Tour competitors, his focused training regimen, the questions over his suspected use of performance-enhancing drugs, and the (legal) strategies he employs to stay ahead of both the field and his own body’s inevitable breakdown. Fueled by superb reporting and the built-in suspense of the 2004 Tour, Lance Armstrong’s War is the equal of its distinguished and very complicated subject. And it’s just in time for Armstrong’s final Tour de France this July. – Booklist
A Season in the Projects
In the heart of Cabrini-Green, Chicago’s most notorious housing project, a group of kids and their white-collar coaches triumph over the odds through Little League baseball. A narrative tour de force that reveals not only a deeply troubling image of the way things are, but also a glimpse of the way they might be.
Praise For Hardball
“An eye-opening chronicle of the fears, frustrations, and small triumphs of playing and coaching Little League baseball amid the squalor and violence of Chicago’s Cabrini-Green housing project…Coyle captures the speech, fears, boyish bravado, and personality quirks of the children trying to have fun in an environment in which survival itself is a daily challenge. The crack of the bat heard over the sound of gunfire: a testament to the innocent courage of children, as well as to their ability to endure in spite of all, including the adults. – Kirkus
After the loss of her only son, Sara Black finds herself spending more and more time at the Seattle hospital where she is a nurse, tending to “the tall man,” the victim of a gunshot wound whose identity has remained a provocative riddle-until he starts talking. As the man she knows as Samuel draws Sara into a strange and chilling story about his past on an Alaskan island, she must face some truths of her own, as well as the realization that the patient to whom she’s devoted herself may not be who he says he is.
Praise For Waking Samuel
“This moving first novel from an accomplished nonfiction writer–Coyle is the author of Hardball: A Season in the Projects (1993)–deals with loss, identity, and responsibility. At the center of the story is a woman named Sara Black, a 41-year-old nurse who has recently lost her young son in a car crash. Haunted by the boy’s death, Sara occupies herself with thoughts of a mysterious patient in her care, the so-called tall man. She becomes obsessed with the nameless patient, a gunshot victim who was discovered by a traveling junior-high class in the Pacific Northwest. Despite many rumors, his entire life remains an enigma to all those around him. Coyle is a clever writer, and he ably weaves his main character’s jumble of emotions into a satisfying whole. The novel takes a handful of unforeseen turns–for one thing, the tall man becomes an ever more perplexing figure–generating considerable excitement in what is essentially a character-driven story. An impressive debut.” – Booklist