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Customer reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars

on 19 June 2005
I have read all the Lance Armstrong based books with great fascination but this one tops the lot, it gives an in-depth view of the man himself, what makes him tick, his relationships, the way he ticks, his obsesive training regimes, i couldnt put this book down, if your into your biking then read this book, you wont be dissapointed, its a warts and all story of the complex sport of cycling and the most gruelling race in the world. EXCELLENT!!!
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on 3 August 2005
Very entertainingly written account of Armstrong's preparations for and participation in the 2004 Tour de France. From an American sports writer who also manages to include "the bluffer's guide to cycling" in explaining the subject to his presumably U.S. target audience.
This book covers a huge amount of territory including sketch portraits of a number of other leading cyclists and key U.S. Postal staff but it never feels slow or needlessly drawn out. You come away with the idea that you have gained a very believable behind-the-scenes glimpse of Armstrong's character and the workings of the pro peleton.
This is probably not a book for those who worship the ground that Lance Armstrong walks on ...or maybe it is.
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on 25 August 2005
When I bought this book I wanted a complement to the two volumes of Armstrong's autobiography. I was looking for a measured appraisal of Armstrong and in many respects this is what I got. Daniel Coyle has sufficient standing as a journalist to have access to Armstrong and his team. He can really write, as the passages describing stages in the 2004 Tour de France were gripping even though I had long since known their outcome. He sheds a lot of interesting light on the effect abandonment by his father may have had on Armstrong which adds to the autobiographies. You also understood a lot more about Armstrong's training methods and his relationship with Jan Ullrich and you can see why of the two great talents it is Armstrong that has consistently maintained the lead. The book is also very interesting on Armstrong's relationship with his trainer, Dr Michele Ferrari. The relationship has been damaging to Armstrong, as Dr Ferrari has made some injudicious remarks about drug taking in sport and ultimately Armstrong is forced to sever his links with him after Ferrari is convicted of a doping offence by an Italian court. However, you can see why Armstrong was prepared to stick with him for so long as Ferrari has a genius sporting mind and is full of highly creative ideas to improve Armstrong's performance still further.
Those are the books strengths. However, I was disappointed by the Coyle's treatment of a book by David Walsh and Pierre Ballster. The Walsh/Ballster book makes new allegations against Armstrong but Coyle does not add anything new. I would have liked more evaluation of these claims rather than reportage.
The book also lapses sometimes into tabloid journalism including some astonishing mean spiritedness. Instead of an analysis of how Armstrong's relationship with Sheryl Crow may have affected his performance as a cyclist instead we find out that Mr and Mrs Coyle have been taking bets on whether the relationship will last until the 2005 Tour. Happily the relationship is still going but I think using someone else's potential heartbreak as a form of entertainment tells us more about the author that the subject of the biography.
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on 19 June 2013
We now know that Lance Armstrong is one of the greatest frauds/ cheats/deceivers the world has ever known, at the centre of THE greatest sporting drugs scandal BUT...
this wasn't what was known when Daniel Coyle published this book in 2005.
Of course, this is in many ways the book's greatest flaw: for all his emphasis on getting on 'the inside track' of Armstrong, Coyle never actually figured it out. Indeed, there's a whole chapter on David Walsh, who was busy trying to blow the whistle, but at that time nobody was listening: Walsh is a sideshow.
Coyle later published "The Secret Race" based on extensive interviews with Tyler Hamilton in 2011, and only after that did he know for sure: in his preface to that book, he says that before interviewing Hamilton in depth, he was "50-50" about whether Armstrong was a doper. And that was his position at the time of writing this book: he's non-committal. He sees how one can see Armstrong as a doper but also sees how it might be possible that he was for real. He also identifies a mentality difference: Americans think "clean=hero, doper=fraud"; Europeans think "doper=whatever everyone else is doing as well, c'est la vie".
Now this isn't quite fair, as plenty of Europeans were fed up with the doping in cycling, but it's also got some truth.
And I hope this book doesn't get entirely forgotten, because alongside the straight cheating of Armstrong and his coach Michele Ferrari, (plus everyone else, Ullrich, Hamilton, Landis et al...), Coyle has documented brilliantly the training, blood, sweat, method, planning and more that went into winning his Tour de Frances. Yes, these guys did cheat, but it was never a done deal in winning a tour: there was a lot of uncertainty about the result: in 2004, for example, Hamilton's injury robbed him of a possible win to Armstrong's benefit.
Coyle also delineates well the celebrity circus that surrounded Armstrong, his charm, his pettiness, his everything. For about ten years, he was one of the world's great sporting superstars, and he didn't achieve this purely by deception. Read Coyle's chapters on Ferrari's number crunching and Armstrong's response to it all in his training and you see a fine-tuned sportsman-coach relationship at work.
And yet, and yet...
ultimately this book is a testament to a time before our eyes were truly opened, when we could still believe in Armstrong's miracle recovery and be inspired by it. It's a timepiece.
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on 1 April 2010
Now updated to include a new chapter covering Lance Armstrong's return to the Tour de France in 2009, Daniel Coyle's account of the American's build-up to the 2004 race which saw him claim his record-breaking sixth win focuses more on the day-to-day life of a top professional road cyclist than it does on the racing itself.

In so doing Coyle, who gained unprecedented access to Armstrong and his US Postal Service team throughout the season, provides many fascinating insights into a peculiar world whose inhabitants fear infection and watch their weight as obsessively as the most anorexic hypochondriac. It is a world in which its occupants push lift buttons with their elbows to avoid infections spreading via their fingers, and for whom every handshake is a potential hotbed of germs. It is a world of masochistic training rides and of lung-bursting tests to assess performance and condition, where the only things that matter are the numbers. And it is a world of cloak and dagger, where every rider is constantly assessing their rivals' form and physical condition, and full of intra- and inter-team political intrigue.

Above all, this book is as close as any writer has ever been allowed to get to the man behind the façade of Lance Armstrong, cancer survivor and seven-time Tour de France champion. In so far that any book authorised and signed off by the man himself can be, this is an honest appraisal of what makes Armstrong tick, from his single-minded focus on hitting peak physical condition in the month of July to his overwhelming need to not just beat but destroy anyone who stands in his way, whether they are wielding a bike or a keyboard.

The book also touches upon the racing year through the eyes of Phonak's Tyler Hamilton (a former US Postal teammate), and Floyd Landis (a Postie in 2004, but one who would leave for Phonak in 2005 to escape Armstrong's long shadow). It even tackles the multiple accusations and litigations being aimed at Armstrong at that time, including the infamous book L.A. Confidentiel by Irish journalist David Walsh, and while the examination of these carries a hint of red-white-and-blue tinted spectacles, it is largely handled in an even-handed way; it is not simply an extension of the Armstrong PR machine.

For anyone who is interested in an external portrait of Lance Armstrong, or in the fine detail behind the broad brush-strokes which comprise the annual spectacle which is the Tour de France, this is one to add to the collection. It's not necessarily a book for the cycling ingénue, but it is a richly rewarding read nonetheless.
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on 9 August 2008
As per the title, this is the best Armstrong book so far. Coyle is a very talented writer and I could have easily carried on reading if the book was twice the size.

It's obvious after reading this book that a lot of research has gone into it. (In fact, the author upped his family from their home in Alaska and relocated in Spain just so he could write this book!). There's not a page goes by without the reader learning something new, or something interesting. I found myself wanting to finish it as soon as possible because it was so good, but I was also not wanting it to end.

For those that aren't familiar with cycling terms there's a glossary at the back which explains it all for you.

Just a note about a previous review which mentioned the author's mean spiritedness in betting with his wife as to how long Armstrong & Crow's relationship would last. LA had full access to the writing at every stage and, in the epilogue of this book, the author talks about a meeting he had with LA where he handed over a final draft for his approval. Likewise, I don't think much was made of Walsh's book because of two things, 1) It's a lot of sensational claims with absolutely no evidence to back it up other than 'hearsay', and 2) In Coyle's book LA's thoughts and feeling on the subject are well documented, his anger at such things being written about him and secondly, his decision not to sue.

Anyone who knows of LA's life/history etc will know that he's not shy when it comes to legal action & sueing people etc, but he decided that Walsh's book was just rubbish and why give them the (much needed) publicity anyway? I'm not trying to spoil the other guys review in anyway, it's just what I made those observations from the book.

Anyway, I've read all the books currently available about LA and I'd have to say that this is definitely the best. Well, joint best with "It's not about the Bike," although this one merely touches on LA's battle with cancer where the above mentioned INATB goes into it in depth.

Well worth your money!
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on 13 August 2005
Like other readers I have read previous books about Lance Armstrong, this one is so well put together by the author. Starting at the begining of the February you get to know exactly what's expected of a tour champion, the book nicely focuses on his team mates, and you get to know who gets on with who! What was interesting is how much information is fed back to the Armstrong camp about Ullrich, Vino, Basso, Armstrong wants to know every little thing.
Buy the book you will not be dissapointed in the read.
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on 15 February 2007
i am somewhat going through a period of obsessively reading books about the tour, and about lance. As a result I have read much that is highly repetitive. Tour De Force has been a fantastic find - it is full of facts other books saw no reason to include. I started it 2 days ago and am half way through and desperate to get home to it...
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on 1 March 2006
I think I've read most recent books about Lance Armstrong and the Tour de France (at least 10, anyway!), but I enjoyed this one the most. It's mildy pro-Lance, but well balanced - most books in the genre seem to extol or denegrade.
The author's insight into all the big names in the 2004 tour is razor sharp. I love the way that the then four big teams are given a real personality of their own e.g. Tyler Hamilton's boy scout-like Phonak team and Lance's space age Disco boys.
It's just a great book about a great event.
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on 12 December 2006
The title of the book suggests that this is a Lance Armstrong biography, but it's more than that. It's a look at the whole world of professional cycling, covering one season, and culminating in the Tour de France.

For a `factual' book, it reads like a crime thriller with the plot twisting and turning every which way it can. It contains suspense, politics, conspiracy theorists, bad guys, mad scientists and love and romance. Like every crime thriller, it has its hero: Lance Armstrong, but the book would be no where without it's rich supporting cast of cyclists like Jan Ullrich, Tyler Hamilton, Alexandre Vinokourov, Iban Mayo, Floyd Landis and Ivan Basso. The book examines their lives in almost as much details as Armstrong's: their backgrounds, how they train, and how they perceive Armstrong. It also includes a cast of none-cyclists: trainers like Dr. Michele Ferrari (aka Dr. Evil), Armstrong's ex-mechanic Anderson, now ex-girlfriend Sheryl Crow (aka Jaunita Cuervo) and many more.

We see how Armstrong has to contend with more than just winning the Tour de France; he has to contend with the multitude enemies, seemingly lead by journalist David Walsh, that are just out to get him: those that want to `prove' that he took performance enhancing drugs and in doing so make there own fortunes. We also see Armstrong's response to these allegations, which, to my mind, only serve to make him harder and more determined than ever to become the cycling equivalent of the unstoppable Arnold Schwarzenegger in the film `Terminator' and to win the race.

`Lance Armstrong tour de force' is excellent: the best book I've read all year: can't wait for the movie.
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