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

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  2,829 ratings  ·  361 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
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published October 15th 2013 by Avery
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 ·  2,829 ratings  ·  361 reviews

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Start your review of Wheelmen: Lance Armstrong, the Tour de France, and the Greatest Sports Conspiracy Ever
Laurie Anderson
Lance Armstrong's 15 years of doping and lying about it is set out in this book with meticulous, disgusting detail.

The authors were journalists for the Wall Street Journal. They put Armstrong's decisions to cheat, lie and commit fraud (aka stealing) in the larger contexts of the international cycling community, Armstrong's various business endeavors, including the Livestrong Foundation, and what they call the "Golden Age of Fraud" - a significant part of American culture today.

Loren Thacker
Oct 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Aug 22, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Nov 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Eric Ruark
May 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
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
Jess Michaels
Nov 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2018
Well that was fascinating and depressing.
Tim Mather
Nov 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Interesting, fact filled and biased. I enjoyed the book quite a bit. I did not understand the extent of the proof and the background during the Lance Armstrong debacle. Armstrong behind the scenes was the antithesis of what he projected to the public in terms of character. He was a bully; tyrannical and manipulative and just downright mean-spirited. Hurt people simply because...shiny. He also was an extremely intelligent and gifted athlete unencumbered by a conscience who did everything he could ...more
Sue Jackson
Dec 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: library
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
Chuck Hughes
Nov 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Scott  Fletcher
Feb 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
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 ...more
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!
Feb 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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, ...more
Isabelle Duchaine
Feb 25, 2019 rated it liked it
I don't usually read sports books - and I have barely ridden a bike in over a decade. I was helping a friend clean out his apartment and he was donating Wheelmen, so I picked it up.

I remember PEAK Lance Armstrong - I think I had a Livestrong bracelet - and I remember his downfall and theb public backlash. But man - Lance is a huge jerk! A huuuuge jerk. And this book does a good job giving an overview of the cast of characters (they are almost all dudes), their motivations and the pressures to
Apr 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
detailed. very detailed to the point of boredom. could have been shorter by 100-150 pages and yet carried the story. it's not a one man show. it never is, to pull something at this level for 7 long years. the greed of many people, cos, agencies, collectives, need to be working in a synchronised if not collusive manner. Armstrong could not have done this without their complicit. yes he was driven by his own reasons which could have been tempered down, but then in his eyes he was trying to break ...more
Nov 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
Well written analysis of how the business machine of "Lance Inc." spiraled into the greatest sports conspiracy ever.
Jul 20, 2019 rated it liked it
This book tried to summarize US-cycling during Armstrong era, but it didn't really capture the essence of the sport, Tour de France or Lance Armstrong. In my opinion, there are better books on the subject, such as Tyler Hamilton's The Secret Race: Inside the Hidden World of the Tour de France and David Walsh's Seven Deadly Sins: My Pursuit of Lance Armstrong.

Tour de France is the most devastating, grueling sporting event on the face of the Earth. When cyclists finish the Tour they are
Rena Sherwood
Jan 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
After Lance Armstrong admitted to Oprah (and the rest of the world) that he'd lied since the early 1990s, my Mom got a pair of scissors and cut her LIVESTRONG armband to shreds. My Mom is an ovarian cancer survivor and she was quite upset. For that reason alone, Lance Armstrong is a POS.

However, his downfall is amazingly entertaining. If you are going to be a living train wreck, you may as well be the biggest wreck in sports.


And this is a page-turner. I kept thinking to myself, "I'll just read
Mar 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: cycling
While there may not have been a lot new in this book, it was a great collection of the events. I appreciate that the timeline was clear and this connected events more effectively than many descriptions I’ve read.

I’m more interested in this point in Volume 2 - the redemption. I’ve always had a soft spot for the human ability to dig incredibly deep holes, then somehow find their way back out. Politicians, thieves and star athleles - the hubris of the ego is unstoppable. Now to see how he manages
Steve Granger
Jul 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Wheelman is a broader approach to the doping scandals in cycling, which hit somewhat of a climax with the remarkable downfall of Lance Armstrong. I was happy to see the authors consider what should be taken away from it all and seriously reconcile with the fact that it came down to more than just some bad apples.
Todd Wilhelm
Feb 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was a good book but I liked Tyler Hamilton's "The Secret Race" better. Hamilton gave more of inside view of the cycler's world. Wheelmen was more of a history of Armstrong; the investigation and legal proceedings. I recommend reading them both and then you will have a thorough picture of all that transpired.
Michael Brown
Sep 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Unbelievable story behind the rise and fall of Lance Armstrong and those around him. Incredibly thorough and detailed.
Denise Apland
Great title and book cover

The authors fault all of those concerned in LA's rise and fall for making money off of him but they are part of the pack! I did like the book and watched Lance's TDF races on you tube while reading. Breathtaking and astonishing don't care who was doping actually. Recommend book and REALLY recommend races.
Oct 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
No, I did not enjoy reading this book. But I had to read it and, once I started, I had to get through it. Bringing down an icon - even when he deserves it (and more) - is either (among other things) gratifying to detractors, titillating to the curious, and disheartening to the fans - and my guess is that all of these apply to the extent there are fewer more polarizing public figures (particularly athletes) that have risen as high and fallen as far (and as fast) as Lance....

Let me get one thing
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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.” 1 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.” 1 likes
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