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Wheelmen: Lance Armstrong, the Tour de France, and the Greatest Sports Conspiracy Ever

3.99 of 5 stars 3.99  ·  rating details  ·  1,676 ratings  ·  276 reviews
The first in-depth look at Lance Armstrong's doping scandal, the phenomenal business success built on the back of fraud, and the greatest conspiracy in the history of sports

Lance Armstrong won a record-smashing seven Tours de France after staring down cancer, and in the process became an international symbol of resilience and courage. In a sport constantly dogged by blood-
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published October 15th 2013 by Gotham
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Loren Thacker
This is a superb accounting of Lance Armstrong and his relationship with performance-enhancing drugs over the course of his ENTIRE professional bike racing career by two journalists from the Wall Street Journal. It is well-researched and well-written. For me, it closes the book on Lance Armstrong. I don't need to know anything more about him. He is now a non-entity to me, after years of foolishly believing him and of admiring his accomplishments.
We probably should have known better. When something is too good to be true… We were duped, but I feel like we need to take some of the blame. We wanted to believe in this level of sports competence…every year…for seven years…by a man who would be considered old in any other sport…and a cancer survivor. Okay, but enough about me.

What surprised me about the information I learned here is Lance’s early home life. His mother never finished high school and was pregnant with Lance at sixteen when her
The story of Lance Armstrong cheating cycling, the media, his worldwide fans, and pretty much everyone in his path is now very old news.

But the authors, while reporting for the Wall Street Journal (of all places!) were the first to break the story wide open. Other books about Lance cheating (via doping) came out last year (the one by his former teammate Tyler Hamilton) lifted the veil and gave us a lot of details, but Wheelmen is the first book to lay out a vivid chronology of Armstrong's 15 yea
OK, I drank the Kool Aid: I read Lance's books, I wore the bracelet, I was inspired to ride the Pan Mass and raise money for cancer research, I bought the lies, I believed Lance was riding clean. I even read Floyd Landis' book and thought he got a raw deal.

Yeah, well, what did I get from all that? Strong legs from riding, and a stupid tan line on my wrist - the rest was pure bullshit. Wheelmen masterfully breaks the story down, revealing just how far up the food chain the corruption went - all t
I started reading this book, thinking it would take a while. Instead, I gulped it down in an almost non-stop session, breaking only for bathroom breaks and sustenance. I am one of the fools drawn in by Mr. Armstrong and crew (as well as then entire bicycling sport) since I discovered it in 1997. One of the other reviewers basically said it all so I will quote him here (Loren Thacker Goodreads reviewer)

"This is a superb accounting of Lance Armstrong and his relationship with performance-enhancing
I feel like this is the conclusion to a quadrilogy, from David Walsh's LA Confidentiel, Daniel Coyle's Lance Armstrong's War and [Whatever the Tyler Hamilton book was calle] and now this. It brings back all the sprawling supporting cast we knew and mostly despised and gives us the ending we saw coming but were afraid would never come to pass. I finished this with the satisfaction that my girlfriend fears will never come from Game of Thrones, and the characters are not dissimilar--I see a lot of ...more
The four star rating is due entirely to the content. It would be five stars except for the writing style, which I found choppy and disjointed (especially through the middle of the book).

As an avid cyclist, I find the story if professional cycling so utterly uninspiring. During the height of the lance phase, I was never drawn to watch the tour or take any interest in him personally. When my mom was going through cancer treatments, I read the "it's not about the bike" biography, and although it w
Sue Jackson
As someone who has followed the Tour de France for many years, what is stated in this book was not a surprise. It was, however, a well documented and written account of not only what was common knowledge but also the behind-the-scenes activities of Lance Armstrong and the other bikers. The list of people that were aware that he and the other cyclists were using banned substances is amazing. Somehow his teams, the other cyclists, sponsors, and even those in charge of regulating were able to keep ...more
Eric Ruark
This book is for you cyclists out there. This book is for all you spandexed, sweat covered weekend, after work cycling warriors who feel the need to experience the build up of lactic acid in your thighs and sting of sweat in your eyes. This book is for anyone who sat in awe and watched as Lance Armstrong with the US Postal team and later The Discovery Channel played a kind of cycling chess with the other top riders and teams of the world during seven successive Tours de France. This is the book ...more
Jaclyn Day
I’ve now read several books about the Lance Armstrong fiasco and this one differs by coming at the doping conspiracy from a mostly financial perspective. Lance Armstrong The Athlete is superficially discussed (his Tour de France wins occupy a few paragraphs each), but Lance Armstrong The Celebrity and Lance Armstrong The Charity Founder are researched in great detail.

It might be easy—especially if you didn’t get interested in this story until it started blowing up—to wonder why Lance’s doping s
Was the Lance Armstrong doping program the biggest conspiracy in the history of sports? That seems doubtful, but it certainly was vast, complex, and long-lived. For fans of cycling, this book is a must-read for multiple reasons. First, it provides a terrific mini-history of professional cycling in the United States. I have never thought about that history too closely, but this book clearly explains why and how cycling was little more than a recreational activity in the U.S. before Greg Lemond, a ...more
Christine Worms
I have always felt conflicted about Lance Armstrong and the sustained efforts to prove that he doped during all 7 of his Tour de France wins. On the one hand, I admired his return to cycling after cancer and the hope he brought to so many cancer survivors through the Lance Armstrong/Livestrong Foundation. On the other hand, I had trouble believing that he was not doping since it seemed to be the accepted within the culture of professional cycling to do so. With that said, before reading this boo ...more
Scott  Fletcher
Absolutely fantastic book - worth a read if you're at all interested in knowing the lengths some people go to to win. After reading the book, I was left with just one question: could Lance Armstrong be a sociopath? His willingness to not just cast aside, but in some cases to destroy the people who helped him achieve success shows not just a mean streak, but a complete and total lack of empathy. He isn't, however, the mastermind behind doping in cycling; the book made clear that there can never b ...more
I had to read this book to find out just how we could have all been fooled for so long. I enjoyed it very much because it sounded to me like we were finally getting to hear the real story. I liked how it started at the very beginning and told the whole story in great detail.

So the main answer for how we were fooled is that apparently drug testing is not as reliable as one would think! Just like politics, I guess you have to follow the money to get the real story. So many people had so much to lo
Ami McMullen
Really good, detailed account of EVERYTHING that happened over the years. Lance wasn't the only one cheating, but he was the biggest ass about it. Very interesting read!
Well written analysis of how the business machine of "Lance Inc." spiraled into the greatest sports conspiracy ever.
I became aware of Lance around the time of the cancer diagnosis and admired him because of his courage and determination in coming back to sports so successfully after being in danger of losing his life. While I didn't immerse myself in it, I got interested in cycling as a sport because of the attention he brought to it. Eventually I came across but didn't necessarily believe the doping rumors. Besides, I figured "they all do it; that's just the pro sports world." When I later heard how he haras ...more
Todd Handy
So, as a former unabashed Lance Armstrong supporter, this book was hard to stomach. So much of this wasn't known at the time, but admittedly much of it was simply overlooked. As an athlete he's world-class, as a person, not so much. The reporting in this was well done (you'd expect that of WSJ reporters), but honestly sometimes the detail was too much and it bogged the reading down a bit. Ultimately a good book, and a deep look into what really was going on behind the scenes and the public adula ...more
"You made a mistake when you testified against [Dr. Michele] Ferrari and you made a mistake when you sued me. I have a lot of time and money, and I can destroy you." --Lance Armstrong to rival cyclist Filippo Simeoni, during the Tour de France, while riding alongside him

"Everything I do off the bike would go away, too" --Armstrong during his 2005 deposition, explaining why he would never take performance-enhancing drugs

Fascinating account of a 14-year conspiracy related to one of the world's mos
Khamneithang Vaiphei
Cycling was not my area of interest until Lance Armstrong burst into the scene, grabbing headlines worldwide. I love heroes and closely followed his record-breaking spree with much delight and triumphal attitude. When rumors started floating around I was quick to dismiss it as the handiwork of mischief mongers. Yet, in due course of time I have been proven wrong.

Wheelmen: Lance Armstrong, the Tour de France, and the Greatest Sports Conspiracy Ever by Reed Albergotti and Vanessa O'Connell, and pu
I have no good explanation for why I liked this book so much, but it was very good reading and very interesting. I raced road bikes very lightly from around 1985-1987 and slowly lost touch with the scene when I got into climbing and eventually sold my racing bike. This book is essentially a history of the career of Lance Armstrong leading from the beginning and up through the eventual stripping of all of his 7 Tour de France victories and ban from elite level competitive sports. It provides good ...more
Tim Mather
Great book. I learned quite a bit about doping in pro cycling. I came away with the impression that in order to compete one had to dope.

OK Additional thoughts...

Lance Armstrong for President
I just finished Wheelmen the new book on Lance Armstrong, doping, and the Tour de France. Lance Armstrong is a, competitor, winner, and risk taker.

All this bullshit hand wringing about his doping is better directed at the organizations who allowed the sport to become the victim of ubiquitous doping, all the
Heather G

Fantastic read providing background details and a fuller picture of the grade-A fraud and jerk that is Lance Armstrong. Amazing that so many people from friends, girlfriends, his wife, sponsors, the biking agencies, etc., were influenced by him and were so easily and willing to violate ethics to keep this narcissist's myth going and for such an extended time. His V02 levels ended up being just average for an elite athlete -- remember the Discovery Channel special saying how he was a genetic mira
Having been a cyclist for 30 years, and having followed the Professional side of the sport, especially the Tour, I was at times sickened to see how Lance fooled so many of us for so long. Thinking about how I used to back UI. And support his stories of being harassed, and now to find out what a chump I was, almost made me put the book away half way through. But the way Albergotti and O'Connel kept going and showed how many people we're bullied into silence or into a supporting role, made me feel ...more
Chuck Hughes
I couldn't put this book down. I'm a cyclist and followed, supported, and pulled for Lance (and other American professional cyclists) for many years. Like many others, I believed his lies. I thought "no way after beating cancer would he dope." Like many others, I was wrong. This book does an amazing job not only showing how Lance (and his retinue) pulled the wool over so many eyes for well over 15 years, but it gives great insight into the man himself. It shows how much of a monster and a sociop ...more
I wanted to badly to hate this book. In fact, I resisted reading it for quite a while. I was a huge fan of Lance's for years: A fellow Texan, a kick-ass cyclist and a survivor of cancer. I suspected he doped (like most of the other Tour de France guys), but I didn't know for certain. But the more disturbing details that came out about him, the more disgusted I became. Rumors of how horribly he ruined the lives of those who crossed him were confirmed. Then his sociopathic behavior during the Opra ...more
Thierry Côté
Absolutely gripping–it was almost impossible to put down once I started reading this expertly researched account that delves into Lance Armstrong's career, the evolution of U.S. cycling and the problem of doping in pro cycling. Of interest whether you care about Armstrong or the Tour de France or not, it is a powerful tale of what people are willing–or obligated–to do to succeed and win in this strange world. Very highly recommended.
I really enjoyed this book. Absolutely fascinating expose. Well-documented. Reads like a novel. Of course, the truth that comes out in this book is terribly discouraging, not only regarding Lance as a person, but many other personalities that I 'looked up to' as a kid and admired as an adult. There are a few bright spots, and I appreciate how the authors consistently point toward those along the way who did what was right (e.g. Greg LeMond, Travis Tygart, etc.).

Folkert Wierda
For all those who are struggling with the internal conflict of Lance as Hero vs Lance as villain, this is a must read. A detailed expose on the pressures, both systemic and personal to overstep the rules in professional sport. And the willingness of most of us to close on eye on that fact.

Lance has caused his own downfall probably most by being unfair to many who helped him.

I agree with one of the conclusions of the authors: that it is stunning and repulsive to see how quickly a broad audience t
I had my suspicions all these years about the doping in professional cycling and when the news broke with Armstrong's public admission, I was curious to know more. This book gives a very detailed factual account of what was going and the big coverup. Because the authors Reed and Vanessa are reporters, they recorded the details and very skillfully wove them into a narrative that was easy to follow and eye opening. Lance Armstrong is now dead to me, I removed him from all of my social media (no mo ...more
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“Armstrong was perfect for their goals—an extraordinary combination of athletic talent, drive, ambition, and ruthlessness. And once he began winning, he became the chairman and CEO of the business of making himself rich and famous.” 0 likes
“Lance is the inevitable product of our celebrity-worshipping culture and the whole money-mad world of sports gone amok. This is the Golden Age of fraud, an era of general willingness to ignore and justify the wrongdoings of the rich and powerful, which makes every lie bigger and widens its destructive path.” 0 likes
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