Bicycling magazine editor Strickland (co-author: We Might As Well Win: On the Road to Success with the Mastermind Behind Eight Tour de France Victories, 2009, etc.) examines Lance Armstrong’s remarkable comeback at the 2009 Tour de France.
When Armstrong announced his intentions to return to the sport’s most celebrated stage, the author was torn. While he understood the (mostly positive) passions Armstrong evoked among cycling followers and cancer patients and their families, he worried that a failed attempt at a comeback would damage his reputation for pulling miracles out of thin air. Was Armstrong trying to prove something to critics, like rival Greg LeMond, whose accusations of drug use clouded Armstrong’s otherwise sterling reputation? Or was it something deeper? Was Armstrong, whom some considered the greatest champion in any sport, trying to teach himself a lesson in humility? In the spring and summer of 2009, Strickland pursued these possibilities, chasing Armstrong and his Astana team around the world as they trained for the ultimate cycling test. It was not a smooth journey. During the Vuelta a Castilla y León in March, Armstrong suffered his first ever collar-bone break. Just a month later, however, he was back on the bike for the Tour of the Gila in New Mexico. Though most cycling enthusiasts already know that Armstrong did not win the 2009 Tour de France, Strickland’s progress report manages to sustain suspense throughout. The author is a gifted writer and supremely knowledgeable about the sport.
Cycling fans will probably get more out of the book than a general audience, but diligent readers will be rewarded with an enjoyable read about a private journey to understand an enigmatic public figure and his place in sport and culture.