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on 10 October 2012
The Secret Race is well written, easy to read and a very fascinating story about the life of Tyler Hamilton as well as the cloak-and-dagger environment of professional cycling.
The book is well balanced between the different time periods of Hamiltons career, including an adequate into his childhood and early amateur days in the US. The bulk of the book is concentrated around his US Postal years and his relationship with Lance Armstrong. The LA part of the book tends to take up a little too much space at times and one certainly gets the impression that this relationship is indeed complicated. The final chapters of the books describing the FDA/USADA investigations appear less well written probably representing the emotional turmoil of these recent events but that doesn't spoil the overall impression of the book.

Contrary to most other 'confessions of a doper books' Hamilton actually spills the beans about almost everyone, but he does it in a quite non-condemning way, and people with an interest in cycling will find lots of interesting tid-bits.

Is it credible? I have a long running interest in doping in cycling, I'm an MD and a former amateur elite rider and well connected with both doctors and riders in cycling and I'll rate the contents as quite credible.

The book is as well written as 'Rough ride' and as detailed as 'Massacre a la chaine' and highly recommended.
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on 20 February 2017
Secret conspiracies and pantomime villains will keep you turning the pages of this autobiography! I started reading it to learn more about Lance Armstrong after watching a documentary about how he simultaneously made and destroyed American cycling. Although I achieved this aim, I soon became more interested in the narrator himself (Tyler Hamilton) who was Armstrong's side-kick in a noughties cycling team oddly named after a post office.
I learnt what it feels like to be a domestique (there, I've learnt the lingo) supporting a living legend who you know is also living a lie! The reader follows Hamilton's fortunes as he breaks from Armstrong's influence, but continues to be seduced by the twin cultures of doping and silence. That is until he gets caught!!

The performance-enhancing hormone, EPO, is as fascinating a character as the riders themselves and even has a name - Edgar. Edgar's supplier is the appropriately named Dr Ferarri, the team's genious doctor and resident pantomime villain.

You'll end up either despising Hamilton or thinking, 'Maybe that could have been me.'
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on 6 April 2018
Cheats are cheats. I have never read a book where a cheat will stop cheating and come clean. They ALL get caught and then suddenly they are anti cheating. Did he have to cheat to compete, probably (although only 13% were cheating apparently).

I am glad he lost a million defending himself, I am glad he lost his houses. He was a cheat and made money from cheating.

It was a good read to see how he and others did cheat. But a cheat is a cheat.

No respect for anybody who cheats to win and thinks its okay because others cheat.
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Wow. I went into this book, because I read both of Lance Armstrong's books. I was convinced of Armstrong's innocence. Recently with all the controversy in the press I as this book and thought it was worth a look. Daniel Coyle said in his intorduction that he wrote this book as unfinished business he felt he had with Armstrong. He also said the one person who he would have liked to talk to about writing this book was Tyler Hamilton. Putting thes two ingredients together they have written an amazing book. Which ask hard questions, and puts the reader in the position Tyler we in. This is summed up in Tyler's statement "you worked out your whole life to get here then your told to get to the next level you have to do this. What wold you do?"

As I said book starts by saying it is unfinished business, the unfolds through the whole book. For Daniel it is at he was left 50 50 about Armstrong's guilt. For Tyler it is about getting his side of the story out there. Tyler's story is ingrossing. He starts out as a promising young rider doing well on the American cycling circuit. Then he moves to Europe and he is suddenly in the middle of what he calls superhuman performance. For a while he takes heart he can compete with the doped up athletes. He starts becoming privy to the elete athletes getting secret little white bags. Finally seeng his potential he is invited ino he club. "What wold you do?"

The next question to answer is if everyone is doing it doesn't that just make it an even playing field? As Tyler says with all things being even the one who works the hardest wins. Wrong it is the one with the best system of getting and adnimistering the drugs wins. In his case it is th Godfather Lance Armstrong. You see relationship between Tyler and Armstrong change from friends/lutenent to rival/enemy.

I honestly do not think Tyler hates Armstrong, I thnk the part that gets him and probably every other cyclist of he era is Armstrong the biggest named user is the one that got away with all the money and fame. As a reader we are given a look at be dark side Armstrong as well as his charismatic appeal. As well as the rewards of being on his good side then the danger and punishments of crossing him. The book gives some examples of possibly how high up Armstrong's influence could be reaching, and how well connected and protected he was and still is. A great book and a gret story, with real life drama. Get it and enjoy.
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on 10 October 2012
Prior to Lance deciding not to defend his status and reading this book I was a great fan of Armstrong. A man that had defeated late stage cancer and go on to win the TDF multiple times - fantastic - something out of a Hollywood film! I wasn't stupid enough to believe that he had not dabbled in performance drugs but, because he had managed to escape getting caught so many times, I thought that unlike the rest of the pelaton in that era he was amongst the group taking the least. Based upon this book - how wrong I was - quite the opposite!

Lance can be forgiven (not that his character would accept forgiveness) for taking drugs during that era because 98% of the pros were taking the same drugs and the race was not about the battle on the tarmac but who could out-play the drugs game and not only defeat the pesty anti-drug enforcers (calling between 7am and 10pm - often on arrangement!!!) but the rest of the cycling teams. It was unfortunately the time of massive performance drug taking that impacted not only cycling but numerous other world sports. Pro cycling was not alone at this time was due to the high endurance required embraced it. Was Lance still the fastest and did he win the TDF? Well, YES - He was the fastest drug taking cyclist of them all. Was this fair on those participating not taking drugs - NO - they are the true winners of the TDF but most ultimately came under pressure to use drugs in order to compete and retain a career.

What Lance cannot be forgiven for is being - well - Lance! If had not seen the Lance DVD "Road to Roubaix" I would not have believed the character portrayed in the book above but after watching that DVD I saw not "my hero" but someone with a dark very mean selfish streak. This book has confirmed what I was beginning to think Lance was about - a manipulating villian who may have got dragged into the world of drug taking but who embraced it, abused it, and took no prisoners in order to gain monetary benefits. Ask yourself, if someone took drugs to simply win the TDF and became famous - that is one thing - but to do it SEVEN times? That is disturbing insight into a dark character. That said, Lance would make a brilliant corporate senior executive. The character he has shown in this sport is no different from the dark characters in the executive boardrooms across the world.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 31 July 2013
Right from the cover of the book, showing a menacing looking Lance Armstrong bearing down on Tyler Hamilton, the book is a detailed, piece by piece demolition of the Lance Armstrong legend and on original publication was the key tipping point for many people in switching them from believing in Armstrong's innocence to certainty of his guilt. With the subsequent publication of a hugely detailed official investigation report and then Armstrong's confession, The Secret Race has in some ways been overtaken by events.

However, it retains far more than simply curiosity value for it still paints a compelling picture of how just so many cyclists ended up cheating. When nearly all the other leading cyclists were already doping, new cyclists faced huge pressure to cheat too or get out and were immersed in a culture where cheating was fine. After three years of losing races to those who were cheating, Hamilton buckled and joined their ranks. Though he doesn't mention it, his own cheating then in turn helped set the tone for the next batch of new young cyclists, putting the same pressures on them to dope that older cyclists had put on him.

This cycle of pressure may partly excuse Tyler Hamilton's own record. But he did more than just dope. His record is one of cheating, denying it, lying, being banned and then going back to the cheating and lying. On that, Hamilton's attempts to cling to his 'but otherwise I was an honest person' defence are less convincing, for he carried on the lying and cheating right up until he had almost no choice but to confess. His subsequent full cooperation is only a small recompense that he didn't quit, confess or - even better - do both many years earlier.

Yet despite all that, his passion for cycling is infectious and his accounts of the racing, both legal and illegal, are thrilling, making this a very readable and enjoyable book. The actions of cycling authorities coming out pretty poorly, even if you view the allegations about Lance Armstrong paying the UCI in the most generous light possible. Huge increases in average race speeds did not trigger nearly enough suspicion and time and again it was the police and other law enforcement authorities who triggered the doping scandals though their diligence, and not the sport's own enforcement activities which kept on missing things, even with tests that were farcically easy to avoid.
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on 20 October 2012
This is an amazing book and all of us who love cycling and sport generally owe Tyler Hamilton a great debt for the courage to make these extraordinarily detailed revelations. If like me you knew and reluctantly accepted something was going on since the 90's but wondered what it was and how they did it and got away with it, then this book is for you. Hamilton leaves nothing out, the how, the why, the effect and how they ducked the mostly pathetic level of testing to which they were subject. The level of detail is such that you really couldn't make this up, so dismiss any idea that he is omitting or for that matter exaggerating any of it. You slowly watch his relationship with Lance Armstrong fall apart and I learned more about Armstrong from this book than I had in 20 years of following his career. I never could take to LA but had a genuine admiration for his indomitable spirit, recovery and achievements. Sadly after reading this all that has gone and I now see him as the self-absorbed cheat he really was. Frankly, he's just not a very nice guy in any way!
I suppose unless you are a sports physiology 'nerd' like me it could be a bit of a chemistry lesson at times but only to a necessary extent, it seems to me.
As they say the 'devil's in the detail' and TH's inclusion of that precise detail is where this book is so different from anything you may have seen on this subject before.
If you are interested in cycle racing and endurance sport of any kind then you really have to read this; you won't be able to put it down!
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on 28 October 2016
I chose 4/5 stars because, even though I can't put my finger on it, if feels like there's something missing. Maybe I was expecting something a little more raw. Don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed the book. There's a level of detail that was surprising. There's a lot of detail around dates and times that must have taken a while to piece together which is testament to the research. I would recommend this to anyone who likes cycling as it gives an insight into how the pro's used to be (hopefully not now). Although it is concerning that some of the current rhetoric around the medical exemptions in cycling seems familiar after reading this book "push it to the legal limit".
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on 19 March 2013
Throughout the 1990's and 2000's I admired and defended Lance Armstrong. After all he had never tested positive - or at least had never been sanctioned. I regarded the accusations of the French press and other individuals as anti American, sour grapes.

I looked at the caught dopers- Floyd Landis, Tyler Hamilton , Vinakourov and all the other stars - as flawed cheats who got their just desserts. Even David Millar who confessed all - eventually- and campaigned strongly against drugs, although eloquent and convincing, I regarded as a reformed sinner.

I have changed my mind. The French press were right and the complete professional cycling world was corrupt. This compulsive reading lays bare the systematic doping organised and orchestrated by the teams whose team doctors - Michael Ferrari being the most systematic - planned and implemented the doping programmes. The governing body- the UCI - turned a blind eye.

Young riders who had committed their lives to professional bike racing, and who often had few other life alternatives had nowhere else to turn. Would I have made any different choice?
Although one can understand and empathise with the cyclists with limited alternatives, Lance Armstrong was a powerful force within the peloton exploiting EPO , testosterone and blood transfusions to the max. and discarding friends when they were no longer of value. Other riders who were caught were shunned by the peloton.

Even the powerful US Food and Drug Administration led by Jeff Novitzky , its experienced and feared investigator, dropped its enquiry in 2010 into drug abuse for clearly political reasons.
Yes, Tyler Hamilton like all caught dopers wants to justify himself and make money from a book. But nevertheless the book provides a devastating indictment of the UCI and the team organisations.
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on 11 October 2012
Great book...not quite finished it but superb for cycling enthusiasts or not.

Hamilton comes across pretty well, but he clearly got sucked into the world of doping and to be honest didn't try too hard not to. The sad fact is that as he keeps saying "you're either in or out" when it came to doping....lance it seems more 'in' than most. With the USADA report on armstrong today as i write you can't help feeling that hamilton may be entitled to feel relieved that at last some truth about the whole system is finally coming to the forefront. Armstrong in particular comes across as pushy, relentless and although undoubtedly talented also missing in what really matters...ethics. Hamilton is possibly a sensitive individual who couldnt keep up the lies and although also uber-talented and it appears impervious to pain he just couldnt live with himself. The worrying facts most of all are that it appears the UCI where/are more aware of the situation than they would like to admit and that the sport itself has become so intensive that doping is the only way to complete the schedule never mind actually win. The biggest indictment is that it appears cycling does/has excepted that doping is standard procedure and basically all who become involved are sucked in and spat out the other side....some like lance embrace it and prosper....the less single minded like hamilton are left emotionally bereft. It could come across as a finger pointing exercise from hamilton with the blame singularly pointed towards armstrong but he doesnt seem like that sort of person and more than anything he at all times admits his involvement so you get the feeling his accusations are pointed more at the sport itself and the governing bodies more than individuals. You do wonder though how the ruling bodies could be so out of touch with the level of doping going on and in turn whether or not time has been called on them too....

Aside from the central themes it is a great read, very funny, doesnt seem ghost written and despite the central theme of doping you still get the feeling you are reading about some of the greatest athletes of all time (what they go through is incredible)....which is even sadder as hamilton (and some others) clearly came to point where they could fool themselves no longer and wished the sport in general was clean to make redundant the 'level playing field' armstrong believed doping enabled.
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