Lance Armstrong's War
One Man's Battle Against Fate, Fame, Love, Death, Scandal, and a Few Other Rivals on the Road to the Tour
By Daniel Coyle
(HarperCollins, Hardcover, 9780060734978, 336pp.)
Publication Date: June 2005
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Lance Armstrong's War is the extraordinary story of greatness pushed to its limits, a vivid, behind-the-scenes portrait of Armstrong--perhaps the most accomplished athlete of our time--as he faces his biggest test: a historic sixth straight victory in the Tour de France, the toughest sporting event on the planet.
Made newly vulnerable by age, fate, fame, doping allegations, and an unprecedented army of challengers, Armstrong fights on all fronts to do what he does like no one else: exert his will to win. That will, which has famously lifted him beyond his humble Texas roots, beyond cancer, and to unparalleled heights of success, is revealed by acclaimed journalist Daniel Coyle in new and startling dimensions.
We see how Armstrong rebuilds after his near-loss in the 2003 Tour, discovering new strategies to cope with his aging body. How he fills the holes in his life after his painful divorce from his wife, Kristin, and the ensuing time apart from his three young children. How he manages the exceedingly difficult trick of being Lance Armstrong--a combination of world-class athlete, celebrity, regular guy, and, for many Americans, secular saint.
But a saint's life it's not. To function at his peak, Armstrong requires what his friends artfully call "stimulus"--and if it's lacking, he won't hesitate to create some. We see Armstrong operating at the turbulent center of a fast-orbiting cast of swaggering Belgian tough guys, controversial Italian sports doctors, piranha-toothed lawyers, and jittery corporations, not to mention a certain female rock star. We see the subtle mind games he plays with himself and with rivals Tyler Hamilton, Jan Ullrich, and Iban Mayo. We see him through the eyes of his teammates, competitors, and friends, and explore his powerful relationship with his mother, Linda. We see what happens three weeks before the Tour, when he's faced with a double challenge: a blowout defeat in an important race and the release of a controversial book seeking to link him to performance-enhancing drugs. And finally we see it all culminate in the Tour de France, where Armstrong will rise to new and unexpected levels of domination.
Along the way, Lance Armstrong's War journeys through the little-known landscape of professional bike racing, a Darwinian world of unsurpassed beauty and brutality, a world teeming with underdogs, gurus, groupies, and wholly original characters, where athletes do not so much choose the sport as the sport chooses them.
Over the season, Armstrong and these characters collide in raw and sometimes violent theater. From the first training camps to the triumphal ride into Paris, Lance Armstrong's War provides a hugely insightful look into the often-inspiring, always surprising core of this remarkable man and the world that shapes him.
"Superbly written [and] deeply researched. A complete portrait of Armstrong."