Book review: The Secret Race by Tyler Hamilton and Daniel Coyle

It took me a little while to come round to ordering this book but I have to say I’m very pleased I did. This is a riveting read and one that I struggled to put down from the first few pages in. It’s well written and an eye opening read into the dark and twisted world of a doped up Peloton. Unsurprisingly Tyler Hamilton comes across as a likeable guy who chose a path that both took him to the heights of the world of Pro-Cycling but also deep down into the lows that cost him his achievements, his marriage, his livelihood and his reputation. It’s also a story full of dodgy dealings with some of the darkest characters in the sport and in many ways still leaves a lot of questions hanging.
Yes, it focuses on Lance quite a lot and Lance doesn’t come out of it well – but frankly he doesn’t anywhere anymore. The team managers and team medical staff also come out very badly as in that cheating and doping were just part of being ready to race and especially if you wanted to win.
For me some of the bigger problems are the implications that the flagrant disregards to the rules of the sport went right to the very top of the UCI – to Hein Verbruggen himself, with insinuations that are deeply disturbing indeed.
If you’re on Twitter and following the “right” people, none of this will be a surprise. I didn’t start following cycling in earnest until Lance was into his “winning” streak at the Tour but right from then my friends who I turned to to discuss cycling were fairly clear on their views on whether it was legit or not.
Many of the other subjects that this book covers: the USADA case and many, many of the recent damning interviews published about the ills withing the sport include the power and strength of the Omerta in cycling (where no one publicly condemns or speaks out against doping), the corruption within the sport, the sheer numbers of high profile people within the sports involved in doping along with what also seems an almost complete lack of interest by the UCI in properly tackling it.
As a fan and an enthusiast, I’m delighted to see books like this come out – in my mind they’re more important than those celebrating tradition and heros and all that as I generally see these as a rose tinted view that’s based more on hope than facts. If you love the sport – you really ought to read this book too.
I and many other fans are wrestling with just how deep these problems are and how they might be able to be fixed. I genuinely hope that this book can be a catalyst for positive change. I think it is – but I feel that it’s likely that the rabbit hole goes quite a bit deeper yet.
For more reviews on the book, please try the following links from other great sites:

The Inrng book review
Bikeradar review
Road.cc review
Cycling Weekly review

You can pick up a copy from any good bookshop or you can order it here: Amazon.co.uk