Cycling Review: ‘The Secret Race’

Today we are taking a look at The Secret Race, by Tyler Hamilton and Daniel Coyle.

secretracecover

We found this book to be a gripping, no holds barred look into the underbelly of the professional cycling world. It serves as both a biography and confession of former professional cyclist Tyler Hamilton. Through a series of interviews with Daniel Coyle, Hamilton outlines the win-at-all-costs mentality that existed in cycling at the time.

Prior to reading this book, I had a pretty low view of dopers, but after reading The Secret Race it’s hard not to sympathise with guys like Hamilton. It was an unforgiving time in the sport, where if you weren’t doping, you may as well go home.

We found it fascinating to hear stories of Hamilton’s drug use and the lengths that he and other cyclists went to to avoid getting caught by cycling authorities. We won’t spoil it too much, but it’s sure to leave you shocked.

Aside from drugs in sport, this book also takes a look at the politics involved in the sport. Hamilton speaks often of cycling’s “omertà”, the code of silence that exists in the peloton. Cyclists that spoke out against doping to the press were shunned and driven out of the sport by other members of the peloton.

One of the highlights of the book for us was the relationship between Tyler Hamilton and Lance Armstrong. Hamilton served as Armstrong’s lieutenant on the US Postal team from 1999-2001, helping Lance to three consecutive Tour de France victories. Hamilton gives an intriguing glimpse into what Armstrong was really like behind the scenes. The levels that Armstrong went to to reach the top and stay there were both shocking and appalling.

On the whole, we both really enjoyed this book. It’s refreshing to see a cyclist tell all. Hamilton comes across as warm, friendly, and genuine, and you really feel for what he’s been through. Highly recommended.

Score: Yellow Jersey

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The scoring system explained:

Yellow jersey: The jersey given to the winner of the Tour de France. A brilliant film/book.

Polkadot Jersey: Awarded to the winner of the most King of the Mountain points. This would be a very good book or film, but not in the same class as one which scored a yellow jersey.

Green Jersey: The jersey awarded to the winner of the most sprint points at the tour. This is an entertaining book or film, but not in the same substance as the two grades above.

Lanterne Rouge: The Lanterne Rouge is known in cycling circles as he who finishes last place in the Tour de France. In this scoring system it will be given to a book or film that misses the mark completely.

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