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3.6 out of 5 stars
3.6 out of 5 stars
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on 6 May 2017
A very open and frank look at what pro cycling is all about. Bjarne gives what I think, is an honest account of his life on and off the bike. He comes across as someone who has told us that pro cycling is for hard men only. Well done Bjarne.
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on 12 May 2017
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on 26 May 2012
If, like me, you have mixed feelings about Bjarne Riis from what you know of his past, but don't know him personally, expect this book to challenge those feelings. I finished his book with a different view of the man than I started with - my feelings are still mixed, but in a somewhat different way.

Firstly, putting the man to one side, the book itself. I'm judging the book by the standards of other cycling biographies and autobiographies - and I have read quite a few. I haven't given it five stars because it is a classic of modern literature; it isn't, but then that wasn't what I was looking for.

Instead I have given it a top rating simply because it is fascinating - pretty much throughout. Indeed the parts of many cycling biographies I find the least interesting (such as the early years of the rider's life) were very well written and some of the strongest parts of the book. Riis's early years as an amazingly committed child cyclist and then as a pro - when he really struggled to make it - are probably the least famous, yet most heroic, years of his life. The account of his doping is more detailed and more open than I expected (though he refrains from pointing the figure at others). His account as manager of numerous controversial and leading riders since - such as Jalabert, Sastre, Hamilton, the Schleck brothers and Contador - is also insightful (though perhaps not as much as it would be if more years had passed since events and he wasn't still very much involved in cycling).

It isn't perfect. For example, the last few chapters read as though they have been tacked on afterwards (and indeed maybe they were). But as they bring the book up-to-date to 2012, they were nonetheless very worthwhile. The accounts of his "triumphs" as a cyclist are also rather less exciting to read in light of what one knows about his performance enhancing drug use. Nonetheless, overall I do think it is worthy of a high rating.

From reading the book, my views on Riis himself are more mixed. His early life is tough, impressive and, in some parts, heroic. His reliance on drugs and his leaving his first wife and children, lamentable. To me, he also came across as hypocritical at times, seemingly without realising it. In one chapter he complains about the lack of loyalty within his team as the Schleck brothers and others are looking to leave for another team. At the same time he is busy trying to recruit Contador from the Astana team.

At the same time, I can't help seeing him as likeable and impressive in other respects. His honesty in parts of the book - such as about private comments he made about his father and later regretted - is also very impressive.

I'm not sure how much Riis has not revealed, but what he has covered in this book is never dull and I thoroughly enjoyed reading his book.
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on 28 March 2013
i watched Riis as a rider and i felt he was a 5* professional. As he became a manager those same stars moved with him. Then they started to wane. By the time he had written this book i think it would be fair to mark him as 3.5. Since writing this book he's drifted further, and as a consequence a lot of the content of this same book has drifted with him - from being seen as honest prose to now having numerous questions raised against it. if it is all stages of light and dark for bjarne, right now he is definitely in the shadows. however, one day i do hope he sits to complete his memoirs, but this time with no half truths or clear fabrications. his life story is a fascinating one, and one that i can associate with on so very many levels....
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on 7 December 2016
I have given this a five-star rating because it is fascinating and extremely well written (so congratulations to the ghost writer and to the translator!). As an autobiography, this is self-delusion on a grand scale. Riis seems to believe that his victories in cycling, including the 1996 Tour de France, actually count for something. He claims a number of times to be proud of what he achieved, appearing completely to miss the point that, once someone starts doping, what was a sport is a sport no longer, but something very different. Riis seemingly subscribes to the view that, since practically everyone was taking EPO at the same time he was, it was pretty much a level playing field, and the results of races therefore retain validity. There were, however, different levels of doping, and the effect of drugs varies from individual to individual. Riis' record before he started taking EPO is hardly stellar, and his decline after his Tour win was relatively rapid (although he was no spring chicken by that stage), so it is maybe unlikely that he would have achieved a similar palmares had everyone been clean. His double standards in commenting on his employees who doped are almost staggering, writing of disappointment and betrayal without any acknowledgement that they were simply doing as he had done. All of this is something of a shame. Riis is clearly a very intelligent, if morally flawed, person, who could have brought much to the sport of cycling. In summary, I feel that this is an important book, helping our understanding of the EPO years and the attitudes that prevailed. Sadly, those attitudes seem still firmly to reside in Bjarne Riis' soul.
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on 3 July 2013
Not an incredibly inspiring book, No disrespect to Scandinavians but it portrays quite a cold personality in the way it is written. That may well have been the intent by the author when it was translated. Never was a fan of Riis in his racing days and this book hasnt changed my mind. It lacks the flair and entertainment that you get when you read David Millars book where he also swore he wouldnt dope, then did, then got caught, then relinquished titles, then made a come back. Still quite a good insight into one of the more private guys in the peleton.
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on 5 January 2013
I was brought up on the Indurain era and thus watched Riis rise through the ranks. This is the gritty story of a complex character fighting for survival in a troubled sport. With Riis having being the only yellow jersey of the 90’s to come clean this book is a vital part of cycling’s healing process and the tales of Riis’ experiences as a team manager will be as interesting to cyclists as the stories of the races themselves. All in all a worthy addition to the cyclists library.
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on 16 February 2013
An honest account of what is was like to be part of the "problem" of doping in the peloton and the struggle to face up to your shortcomings and try to be part of the solution. I still cannot forgive what people like him have done to the image of our great sport. It was still a great read and well written. Compelling stuff.
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on 1 October 2013
Riis seems to be fairly honest an open about his doping, although a little late! There is little acknowledgment of doping during his managerial years. Good but could have been a lot better.
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VINE VOICEon 8 May 2013
Bjarne Riis' autobiography is the most delusional piece of fiction i have come across and the most distressing book any cycling fan is likely to have the misfortune to read. One suspects, also, that this is not the truth-telling exercise Riis thinks it is but more of the same lies that have dominated his professional and personal lives. Even though we all know Lance Armstrong cheated his way to all of his professional results, his autobiographies at least have value from the perspective of the human condition. Lance lied and cheated but he also suffered grave illness and his fight against that was remarkable. Riis has no such redeeming features.

Having lied and cheated his way through a professional cycling career Riis has gone onto a career in team management. He claims that doping as a rider when he did it was okay because everyone else did it. I suspect everyone but Bjarne Riis can see the falsehood and delusion at work in that perspective. Riis then claims that his goal was to run a clean team. On his watch the team included riders of the calibre of Tyler Hamilton, Ivan Basso, Frank Schleck, Bo Hamburger and Alberto Contador among others. Each of those riders has tested positive or served a doping ban (or some combination of both). Despite this Bjarne Riis thinks it is right and somehow good for the sport that he believes in their lies and delusions. Alberto Contador says he didn't do it and Riis believes him. Basso was only thinking about doping and Riis feels Basso is hard done by. Schleck denies doping, Riis feels he is a good guy. Hamilton is a nice guy. Hamburger delivers unbelievable results and Riis thinks his coaching, not dope, has made the difference.

Perhaps the worst lie of all is that Bjarne Riis loves cycling. He has done everything in his power to destroy the credibility of the sport and then claims he is a fan. The man doped. His teammates doped. His riders doped when he was manager. And how much of this does Riis want to expose to help clean up the sport? None of it. Even when explaining his own doping Riis only confesses to EPO use. This stretches credibility when we know all of his peers were also using HGH, testosterone and blood doping. We also know Riis was an unremarkable talent as a rider before the dope.

I can only conclude that this book is a total mental fabrication by a man that has become so lost in his own web of lies that he no longer knows the truth and no longer has any perspective on right and wrong. It beggars belief that he still has a position of influence in the sport i love. Frankly, i feel slightly sick that i have paid money that will contribute to Riis' bank account because my curiosity got the better of me.

So, having said that, i appreciate some people will be curious to read the book to see if they agree. Understandable, but be aware that you might find yourself feeling quite bitter after you have paid your money for the privilege.
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