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on 11 October 2013
It's always difficult for me to judge books on Armstrong, whether they contain something new, whether they will interest the ardent fan who knows the ins and outs of the sport, as I'm someone who has followed the Armstrong saga very closely for coming on 15 years. Last years "Secret Race" from Coyle and Hamilton, for me provided no surprises, nothing shocked me, but the depth of the detail, the anecdotes kept me hooked and in many ways Wheelmen is the same.

Wheelmen isn't just about Armstrong, and it isn't just about doping. Instead it attempts, and suceeds, in painting a full picture of the entire story. From the late seventies, through the 1984 Olympics with Eddie B defecting from Poland, it introduces Thom Weisel in detail, the formation of the first US Pro team 7-Eleven, through the creation of Subaru-Montgomery and eventually US Postal. It covers the whole story, the team structure, the coaches, the financiers, the sponsors.

Where "Secret Race" covered the story from the point of view of the rider, "Wheelmen" covers it from the other side, the structure, how everything came about and ultimately how everything collapsed. The two compliment each other perfectly and if you own both you are unlikely to need to buy another Lance book.
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on 13 January 2014
This is an outstanding piece of work by two real (investigative) journalists from the Wall Street Journal. I emphasise real because, with the notable exception of David Walsh at The Sunday Times, most sports journalists are sycophants, held back by a tendency to hero-worship their subjects. Also, they need to keep friendly with the sports stars (and the business people behind them)in order to get access for the interviews their editors are looking for. With Wheelmen, the writers' focus is on exposing what really went on, in what must be the biggest ever rip-off in sporting history of fans, sponsors and event organisers. What the Wheelmen authors found, and report on here, reads like a thriller. I doubt that either of them got a Christmas card from Mr Armstrong, on any of his co-conspirators, though.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 1 August 2014
It's hard not to judge Mr Armstrong. He has been labeled as a bully and a cheat and it's hard to imagine a cycling fan who doesn't have an opinion on the doping scandal that surrounds him. Even those with little interest in the sport have been drawn into the debate. The excuse that 'everyone else was doing it too' is quite frankly, unacceptable. For an athlete in his position as a role model and sporting icon there is just no excuse that would ever be acceptable. There are always two sides to every story though and I wanted to read this to see this whole sorry mess from the other side.

The Secret Race focused on things from the riders' viewpoint, but with Wheelmen we get to fill in more of the blanks and see things from the outside looking in. It seems that everyone has an opinion on this and the interviewee's didn't hold back. Not surprisingly the anti doping crowd have a lot to say here but it's all the little anecdotes and views of the people not usually heard from that make this book worth reading. The wives of team mates, ex girlfriends, retired riders, cycling officials, close family... The cast of characters is lengthy. Overall, it still doesn't paint Lance in a better light (it's hard to imagine anything that could do that) but if nothing else it does highlight the motivation behind his actions.

For anyone who has been following the scandal (or Lance's career) there will be quite a bit here that has already been covered in other places, but there were just enough new details and interviews to hold my interest. It feels almost voyeuristic reading about someone's fall from grace in such detail but it makes for gripping reading.

Do I feel any different about Lance after reading this? Not really, but to be fair there were moments where I could see 'why' the decisions were made, even if I didn't agree with them.

It's a very well written book and eminently readable and I'd recommend it as required reading for anyone who has been following Lance's rise and fall.

*I was sent a complimentary copy of this by the publisher
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on 27 November 2013
David Walsh's books give an excellent account of the cycling side of the Armstrong saga. Wheelmen gives a detailed account of the growth and size of the financial and business involvment in the case. It shows how many wealthy and influential companies and individuals had a vested interest maintaining Armstrong's 'perfect image' and their reluctance to face the growing concerns over how his and his teams success was achieved. It shows the willingness of individuals and companies were prepared to sacrifice the reputation and businesses of the whistleblowers to maintain their 'in' with the Armstrong clique. Well worth a read, in conjunction with the David Walsh and others books covering the same subject.
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on 17 January 2014
I've read a few accounts of the rise and fall of Lance Armstrong and this one is my favourite. It's well-written, it synthesises info from a lot of different sources, and it cites the sources at the end. It's a compelling read, too. This is definitely the Armstrong account I recommend.
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on 25 February 2014
Being born and bred in Flanders, cycling is just part of our genetic fibre... At the same time I've always been interested in professional cycling in general and later also the doping issues, of which I have read quite a lot of interesting books. At the time when the Lance hype reached its peak, I was considered the odd one out amongst my cycling buddies for refusing to wear the Livestrong yellow wristband. The reason why? Frankly I not only detested how the Lance Armstrong approach was changing the face and open character of cycling, I was convinced that he doped from the very start as a cyclist. The excuse that everybody else did it is absolute nonsense and unacceptable. Why quite a bit of facts in this book have already been well covered by other writers, this book draws its strength by adding very personal bits of conversations between the main characters and as such add a very interesting extra dimension and viewing angle to the general picture which goes from the founding of the UP team till the moment of Armstrong's skilfully directed but yet unimpressive and hypocrite "confession" on the Winfrey show. All the aspects and relationships between the team's management, the sponsors, the politicians and the several companies and subsidiaries where the money went into are disected with the razorsharp scalpel. The story never gets boring or complicated which is a proof that both authors' chemistry matched amazingly well. They show that they know their stuff and what could easily look as a difficult matter is explained in a crystal clear way. The book is therefore one of the few that deserve to be considered a real pageturner. The authors are not afraid to analyse Armstrong's character (a selfish, bullying narcist who walks over people without blinking an eye) and the sad bottom line is that in the end he not only disreputed professional cycling, he also betrayed those millions of cancer patiens who believed in him, not realizing that he just conveniently used them to sell more books and increase his personal wealth. It is therefore ultimately nice to see that what at some point threatened to become cycling's perfect crime, was exposed as a vulgar, disgusting abuse of one of the world's most beautiful sports, confirming the saying that - when something is too good to be true, is most of the time not true... Let's hope that this will be an inspiration for a cleaner peleton, without being so naive to believe that doping will disappear entirely from cycling and sports in general...
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on 3 November 2013
I've read most of the other published work around Armstrong and the USPS team, including Hamilton's book. This book fills in all of the gaps by inserting a inputs from a number of other interviews, many of which have been published in the WSJ.

This book certainly majors on the business side of LA's life, and gives a good insight into the magnitude of the sums involved. All in all, this is perhaps the most complete review of the rise and fall of LA, though its objectivity can make it seem a little soulless at times.
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on 30 December 2013
This is a bit of a favourite subject of mine and I devoured all the David Walsh books and Tyler Hamilton's offering. This account is written by two WSJ journos and it offers a detailed and frank account of the Armstrong story. I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in Cycling, doping in sport and Armstrong. Unlike David Walsh's books this avoids all backstory for non central characters or personal narratives and focuses exclusively on Lance. It offers a fascinating insight that's backed with detail particularly regarding his comeback and the USADA investigation.

Great read, only wish it was longer!
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on 24 February 2014
Reed and Albergotti's book is a thoroughly absorbing and exhaustive account of the Armstrong years and the messy aftermath. What singles it out from other books on the subject is that as outsiders their account is framed as a story of the business, both of sport and sports marketing and sponsorship and also the business of doping. I thought I had read enough about the whole sorry tale but I am really glad I read this. Now I can walk away from it all knowing I understand about as much as is possible of how this was allowed to happen. And believe it - it was allowed to happen.
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on 14 January 2015
Good, clear , well documented expose of the Lance Armstrong drug cheat, detailing the extent of the problem, the history, the extent of the back room connections, the people behind the wheeling and dealing. An awful lot of very detailed work went into this book and it is very evident from page 1.

It is still surprisingly easy to read and clearly shows the authors intimate knowledge of the outing of one of the biggest lying cheats in
modern cycling racing history.
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