Written by Alexis Arapoff Friday, 15 October 2010 00:00
The Secret Race, By Tyler Hamilton and Daniel Coyle
Inside the Inside the Hidden World of the Tour de France: Doping, Cover-ups, and Winning at All Costs
Like many New England cyclists I was a big fan of Tyler Hamilton. As the unassuming local kid starting making his presence felt at the biggest races in cycling we all felt pride in the work ethic and never quit attitude. I even went to the parade in Marblehead MA honoring Hamilton after his courageous effort in the 2003 Tour de France (Hamilton rode most of the race with a broken collar bone). A year later Hamilton had been caught doping at the Olympics and the Vuelta a Espania and was issued a two year ban. After these events there was a “Believe Tyler” campaign as well as an adamant denial of doping by Hamilton himself. I believed Tyler, I was wrong. I was also wrong about pro cycling in general. I started paying attention to pro cycling, particularly the Tour de France in the 1980’s. I worked in a local bike shop and every year we would get VHS tapes of the Tour a few months after the event. I loved watching the complete coverage of the race and was hooked (back then TV coverage of the 3 week race was limited to a single segment on ABC’s Wide World of Sports). As the years went on and cable TV covered every stage of the Tour I put my blinders on as I watched the most incredible displays of cycling. I had read about doping in cycling and every few years there would be people caught and teams sanctioned but I never thought that “our guys” cheated. Our guys being the US Postal team.
“The Secret Race” is as much about Lance Armstrong as it is about Tyler Hamilton. The book details the systematic way that Armstrong and the US Postal team (Doctors and Director Johan Bruyneel) went about creating the “win at all cost” system to basically force teammates into doping regiments. Hamilton is not innocent by any stretch. He decided to go along with the cheating (EPO, blood transfusions and testosterone) and did not stop after he left the Postal team. Hamilton does however become a much more sympathetic figure than Armstrong. Prior to reading the book I watched Hamilton interviewed on a local television station; he was contrite but also looked relieved. At the end of the interview he stated “As my parents always told me the truth will set you free”. This is in sharp contrast to Armstrong who still denies any wrongdoing and according to many sources is harassing and intimidating those who speak out against him. All this comes at a time when the USADA released a report citing 11 former teammates that testified under oath that Armstrong doped. If you are interested in cycling and followed the Tour during the late 90’s and early 2000’s I would highly recommend the book. I can finally say that I now “Believe Tyler”.