Over the course of two years, Coyle conducted more than two hundred hours of interviews with Hamilton and spoke candidly with numerous teammates, rivals, and friends. The result is an book that gives a look inside a shadowy, fascinating, and surreal world of unscrupulous doctors, anything-goes team directors, and athletes so relentlessly driven to succeed that they would do anything-and take any risk, physical, mental, or moral-to gain the edge they need to win.
Tyler Hamilton was once one of the world's best-liked and top-ranked cyclists - a fierce competitor renowned among his peers for his uncanny endurance and epic tolerance for pain. In the 2003 Tour de France, he finished fourth despite breaking his collarbone in the early stages and grinding eleven of his teeth down to the nerves along the way. He started his career with the U.S. Postal Service team in the 1990s and quickly rose to become a member of the inner circle. For the first three of Armstrong's record seven Tour de France victories, Hamilton was by Armstrong's side, clearing his way. But just weeks after Hamilton reached his own personal pinnacle - winning the gold medal at the 2004 Olympics. This career came to a sudden, ignominious end: Hamilton was found guilty of doping and exiled from the sport.
From the exhilaration of his early, naive days in the peloton, Hamilton chronicles his ascent to the uppermost reaches of this unforgiving sport. In the mid-1990s, the advent of a powerful new blood-boosting drug called EPO reshaped the world of cycling, and a relentless, win-at-any-cost ethos took root. Its psychological toll would drive many of the sport's top performers to substance abuse, depression, even suicide. For the first time ever, Hamilton recounts his own battle with clinical depression, speaks frankly about the agonizing choices that go along with the decision to compete at a world-class level, and tells the story of his complicated relationship with Lance Armstrong.
This is a must-read if you want to understand what it's like to live, train, and race as a pro, including the doping culture and tricks so prevalent during the Lance era (and hopefully less prevalent today).