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Notable Book: Tour De Lance

Tour De Lance, by Bill Strickland, covers Lance Armstrong’s 2009 cycling comeback. (Strickland, an editor for Bicycling magazine, also co-wrote We Might As Well Win with Johann Bruyneel and Ten Points, both of which are interesting reads.  A friend gave me a copy of Ten Points when I was recovering from a cycling accident last August.)  I think I’ve read just about every book about Armstrong and his years racing, so when I heard about the publication of this book, I was looking forward to it (and was not disappointed).

The book follows Armstrong along his return through the 2009 Tour De France.  In the beginning, Strickland expresses his dislike (perhaps even frustration) for Armstrong’s return.  Why do it?  Why tarnish a legacy?  Why risk a reputation?  Why not let the young guys take center stage?  What was there for Lance to prove?

As the year progresses, as Strickland follows Lance around the world to various races, he begins to be won over to rooting for Armstrong to win the Tour again.  Is it something he senses in or about Armstrong?  Perhaps.  Strickland spends time with fans (people who are fans not because of Lance the cyclist, but Lance the cancer advocate- people who know nothing about cycling but are there to cheer on their cancer advocate).

He spends a great deal of time with the Astana team, interacting with the mechanics and directors (even riding in the team cars during a few stages of the Tour).  He hears again and again that the team (apart from Contador) are siding with Lance (as the author even begins to do so).

Interestingly, the author chose not to interview Armstrong until after the year ended (and this interview is contained in the afterword), and in that interview, Armstrong lets on the reason for the comeback.  To win, yes.  For cancer advocacy, yes.  To regain balance in life, absolutely.

I found the book well done (although serious cycling fans may find the constant clarifications about cycling irritating) and enjoyable (especially the interactions with Bruyneel).  This is another good book in the tale of Lance Armstrong (John Wilcockson’s book, Lance: The Making of the World’s Greatest Champion, is also an excellent read).

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