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The Secret Race: Inside the Hidden World of the Tour de France: Doping, Cover-ups, and Winning at All Costs

4.3 of 5 stars 4.30  ·  rating details  ·  6,491 ratings  ·  895 reviews

The Secret Race is a definitive look at the world of professional cycling—and the doping issue surrounding this sport and its most iconic rider, Lance Armstrong—by former Olympic gold medalist Tyler Hamilton and New York Times bestselling author Daniel Coyle.

Over the course of two years, C
Hardcover, 290 pages
Published September 5th 2012 by Bantam (first published 2012)
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The Secret Race by Tyler HamiltonThe Rider by Tim KrabbéRacing Through the Dark by David MillarSlaying the Badger by Richard  MooreThe Death of Marco Pantani by Matt Rendell
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1st out of 171 books — 122 voters
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53rd out of 526 books — 506 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jaclyn Day
I knew I would have to read this book after I saw this article ( on Outside Magazine. I bought it the day it came out and have spent every spare moment reading it since.

A little background: my dad is a huge cycling fan. He even raced in some small races when he was younger. He taught my sister and I to ride bikes when we were young and it turned into a family hobby—long bike rides to all sorts of places. There was no city too big or any ride too long. We
Phillip Kim
As an avid cyclist who has followed the sport for the past quarter century, I was saddened and moved, but not shocked, by this book. The recent histories of Lance Armstrong, Tyler Hamilton and that of doping in cycling have been well covered in the mass media. Still, this book tells a captivating story of one man's struggle with conflicting and riddling motivations and explores all facets - light and dark - of human ambition.

The writing style is fast and highly accessible. I read the book in on
♥ Marlene♥
Jan 24, 2013 ♥ Marlene♥ rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everybody
It will be hard for me to read. I have been anti Armstrong since 2000 and knew he doped but nobody believed me but a few cycling friends. On the other hand it will be much better to read about him now that the whole world knows what he is like..........

Hard because I will probably read how he got way with so much for all those years. Never understood the admiration. His bullying ways were so obvious plus he and his team mates all of a sudden became so good.

When he won the tour in 1999 I was happ
Surprisingly well-written!

Tyler's voice doesn't come across as whiny or self-pitying. Instead you get a gripping, clear-eyed view into The Decision, The Descent, and The Consequences. I remember watching these TdF mountain top finishes almost a decade ago, and it's fascinating to read about what was actually going on. The actual doping is the least of the story; the cloak-and-dagger machinery to pull it off is a page-turning thriller.

That all the top guys doped isn't much of a story anymore, tho
I'm an amateur cyclist, but follow international pro racing with great interest. Of course, the use of illegal performance enhancing drugs is a hot topic, and the author, Tyler Hamilton was one of the good guys with huge talent and heart I remember watching on TV for years.

I must be naive, because I thought it was all talent (it wasn't) and he was a hero of sorts to me. Then, like Icarus flying too close to the sun, he fell into the sea, and this is his tell all.

It's not your typical sports mem
Kevin Hollins
After I closed the book (after reading it in one sitting), my final thought was: even if half of it is a complete fabrication, I don't see how any open minded person could come away thinking that Lance hadn't doped. But the really unsatisfying thing to think about is---now what? Every top ten finisher during those years was doped as well. Did that make it a level playing field? Some research indicates that different riders have different results from the same drug, so even that answer is unsatis ...more
Seriously considered five stars. I held back, not out of any flaw, but simply to leave room for more transcendant titles at the top of the scale. This is an excellent sports autobiography. Hamilton is a Nick Carraway to Lance Armstrong's Gatsby (except Armstrong appears less faceted than Fitzgerald's character.)

I was fascinated with the sport when Hamilton was a star. I grew less so after the scandals started, but The Secret Race is an excellent counter to any of the cheap morality tales that pe
this book is crazy. i read it in about 24 hours and couldn't put it down. from the beginning it just takes you on a truth train ride. there isn't a lot of meandering around - it's just beginning to end THE story of what really happens in racing. (of course i always assume there is embellishing and exaggerating in memoirs.)

intresting how, really, you have no choice but to dope if you expect your body to edure something like the tour de france. even more so, it's the accepted culure of the sport.
Wow. I knew Lance was a bully, but I had no idea how much he worked the system. I suspected it but now some of the details are emerging. As a cycling fan, I'm happy to see the truth come out. It's got to help the sport. I hope.

The Secret Race is written in Hamilton's voice with Coyle filling in the details in footnotes. I've read a lot about cycling and doping but this was a new experience. Hamilton's descriptions of procedures, pain, races, and fellow cyclists painted very clear pictures in my
First I feel like I have to make full disclosure; Before yellow wristbands, before Tour de France victories, before cancer, before the 1993 World Cycling Championships, even before the 1992 Olympics, I did not care for Lance Edward Armstrong. When I bought this book, I did not believe that I would be swayed either way.

Secondly, I used to be a huge Tyler Hamilton fan. I remember first reading about him when he won the NCAA cycling championships in 1993 and there was always something likable perha
As a high level amateur and collegiate racer for the last decade, I have followed closely the roller-coaster ride of Lance Armstrong, Postal, and all the rest of it. I was determined not to view Tyler H. as a sympathetic figure going into this book, but the candor and vulnerability he and Coyle show the reader are hard to resist. He does a tremendous job of building up to that now famous question, "what would you do?" As someone who dreamed about doing what he did, my answer is "I don't know."

The Secret Race didn't tell me much I didn't already know about bike racing's dark side but it did fill in some details. You got a good teaser when Hamilton appeared on 60 Minutes, but take the time to read this book for more of the story.

Anyone who thinks that Lance Armstrong rode clean needs to read this book though to me it is less about Armstrong and more about the culture of the pro peloton overall. But if you read this book and *still* think Armstrong was clean, well, he was the only one
Nicholas Beinn
I felt compelled to get through this because I had paid for it, and as a recreational cyclist and cycling fan I was interested in the revelations it contains. The details were satisfyingly pornographic. However, the book hasn't any literary merit. The narrative style is very much your standard sports autobiography. Quite often the story is tediously self-serving. I could have done without any of the details on Tyler's early life as 1. They were boring and 2. I didn't really believe him. There ar ...more
Pete Collins
I watched all of Lance Armstrong's races and victories from 1999 to 2005. I saw his adversaries being dropped by by relentless pressure or being excluded due to drug taking. It was obvious that there was an organised drug taking regime and even teams were excluded but in all that time one hoped and prayed that Lance was clean. Once I'd read "From Lance To Landis" by David Walsh it became apparent that my hopes were being undermined. Having then read many other books on cycling it became obvious ...more
NOTE: Review contains multiple quotes which may contain spoilers.


Tyler Hamilton was a successful professional biker and one-time friend and teammate of Lance Armstrong, who like Lance eventually got "popped" for his doping. His captivating story, told with the help of Daniel Coyle, not only sheds light on the doping problem in cycling (with a spotlight on Lance) but also fosters empathy for the athletes (even Lance) who ultimately had to decide whether to lose/quit or give th
Very good, very readable. I finished the book in about a day...but I have to say that it left me feeling pretty sad. I'm not a cycling fanatic, but I did read Armstrong's two books and had a certain admiration for him, despite the rumors. But what Hamilton's book does is explain exactly how the doping took place, and how it was perfectly possible to dope and not get caught. I found it an extremely convincing account of doping in professional cycling, explaining not just the how, but the why.

Dana Larose
Tyler Hamilton's biography and mea culpa. Really fascinating if you're into cycling, endurance sports, reading about the extremes elite athletes put themselves through or the whole Lance Armstrong business in general.

Hamilton doesn't especially try looking for pity. Doping was just another aspect of the life of a professional cyclist along with torturous training and borderline eating disorders. (The general rule was that losing a few pounds gave you a huge boost to speed -- riders would try tri
I must admit, I had a romantic association with Lance Armstrong. I was one of the many who thought (naively) that his seven consecutive wins in the Tour de France came about because of his revolutionary training methods and him just being better/stronger than everybody else. however, reading this account by Tyler Hamilton, as well as many of the damning articles/reports released by USADA, I can't help but wonder if my believe in the Armstrong juggernaut has been shaken to its very foundation.

Oct 11, 2012 Melanie rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Melanie by: Reuben Irvine
Shelves: non-fiction
Following the tour is a winter ritual at my place. I fantasise about leaving the wet NZ winter to stand on the side of the road on one of those famous mountains shouting ‘Allez, Allez’ at the peleton. But doping has always blighted my enjoyment of the sport – many of my favourites have been ‘popped’ (i.e. found to be drug cheats). Last tour it was Frank Schleck, but nearly every tour I have been disappointed by drug cheats.

Tyler Hamilton’s book is an enjoyable ‘warts and all’ confession of his
David Bradley
The Secret Race is a (hopefully) honest account of the rampant doping in the sport of cycling throughout the past twenty years. Tyler Hamilton, once one of the sport's top riders, reveals how doping quickly became a necessity to anyone hoping to compete at an elite level. Along the way, Hamilton divulges information regarding cycling's most prominent figure, Lance Armstrong, including his use, and subsequent cover-up, of performance enhancing drugs.

In a sport that has become incredibly clouded
Konrad Michels
Very interesting read indeed. I initially read this book keeping in mind that Tyler perhaps had an axe to grind with the US Postal team and Lance in particular. Having read about his time in the US Postal team from Lance's perspective, it was interesting to see the similarities and differences between the events they both talk about. I do think that, overall, Tyler's story here has been told well, and it is intentionally and openly told subjectively. He has mostly succeeded in making the book *n ...more
I'm through now, but these are a few notes from while I was still reading.
- The writing style is amazing, Tyler Hamilton picked a fantastic helper to write this.
- Lance Armstrong comes across as someone obsessed and driven, ice cold and stopping at nothing to win. Perhaps as an atheist who has no higher power or moral code to bow to, that's only logical. What's left now he's lost all the gloire? Not that that's ever enough.
- Some of the people mentioned here might feel ashamed, others uplifted,
Sep 08, 2012 Brentley rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Cyclists
A deep dive into what really happens in professional cycling. Tyler (what was caught doping) goes through the methods that were used by the pro peleton to evade detection and raise the average speed of major events. He talks in depth about how he had to make the choice and goes into detail
around the US postal Service and Lance Armstrongs doping program.

In light of the USADA actions against Armstrong it finally lifts the veil of secrecy off of cycling. If you were one of the few remaining peopl
Marianne Meyers
Whoa, this book sucked me in and I couldn't put it down. FINALLY, we hear the truth, how all the subterfuge worked, the amount of energy and focus taken away from the actual riding of the bike. Heartbreaking, heart-wrenching, Tyler delivers with clarity and honesty. Thank you for writing this book, we true cycling fans who have followed your career and love the sport, deserve to know the truth. And thank you, Daniel Coyle, for another excellent, informative read.
"The truth shall set you free". With this in mind Tyler Hamilton has provided a glimpse into the murky world of professional cycling. However, reading this book you realise that the cyclist themselves were caught in a trap of either bowing out the sport or doping. This is a very topical book at the moment – with the Lance saga in the news. Reading this book, one realises that Lance, the hero, has feet of clay and the fairy tale is fiction. Sad, but true.
This book was a real eye opener. I'm sure many who follow sports closely were aware of the lengths athletes go to to compete. I, on the other hand, assumed it was just a select few. After reading this book I have changed my outlook on professional sports. I think most athletes in today's age need to enhance themselves to compete. Be it cycling, baseball, football, wrestling, tennis, track, name it. It is both sad and inevitable that athletes resort to blood doping, steroids, EPO and ...more
Remember when you realized Santa Claus wasn't real? This is the same feeling but as an adult. It was nearly impossible to put this book down. The density of jaw dropping information is staggering. Too many topics to comment on from this book. Even if you replace Lance Armstrong with no name cyclist X, the story is just riveting - the most raw account I've ever read. Everyone deserves to know the truth.
This and all my other reviews are originally posted on my blog (un)Conventional Bookviews

The Secret Race was lent to me by my very good friend Colleen while we were in Paris to watch the arrival of the Tour de France on Champs Elysées this past July.
Colin Taylor
"This book was dope" - Will-I-am (possibly)
Cathy Douglas
Five stars for telling the fascinating and, as far as I can tell, true story about the last twenty or so years in pro cycling. When this was all going on, I didn't want to believe the people who said anybody who was winning just about had to be cheating. After reading this, I'm sure they were right. The advantages of EPO and blood doping are undeniable.

But I'm not giving Tyler Hamilton any special credit for his honesty. Yeah, he decided to come forward with the truth--when he was 37 years old a
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

Tyler Hamilton is a former American professional road bicycle racer. He was a promising skier until a back injury put an end to this in 1991. He then became a cyclist, and went professional in 1995 with the US Postal Service cycling team. His carreer ended in april 2009, after a positive doping test.
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“I discovered when I went all out, when I put 100 percent of my energy into some intense, impossible task - when my heart was jack-hammering, when lactic acid was sizzling through my muscles - that's when I felt good, normal, balanced.” 6 likes
“People think doping is for lazy people who want to avoid hard work. That might be true in some cases, but in mine, as with many riders I knew, it was precisely the opposite. EPO granted the ability to suffer more; to push yourself farther and harder than you'd ever imagined, in both training and racing.” 2 likes
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