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Lance Armstrong's War
One Man's Battle Against Fate, Fame, Love, Death, Scandal, and a Few Other Rivals on the Road to the Tour de France

By Daniel Coyle
Buy the hardcover | paperback


The long-awaited definitive portrait of an American hero and his
high-octane world

A New York Times Bestseller
A Barnes and Noble Recommended Book

[what they're saying]

Best Biography 2005, Britain's National Sporting Club: "This is an incisive portrait of an intense and driven man. It takes us deep into the world of professional cyclists and the Tour de France. Daniel Coyle holds nothing back but provides the wherewithall for the readers to make up their own mind about the Armstrong phenomenon. This is a remarkable book."

"The combination of effervescent observation and hard-won insight makes "Lance Armstrong's War" a must-read." --Allen St. John, Washington Post, July 21, 2005

"With a velvety mix of vivid, sophisticated prose, Raymond Carver's unerring eye for nuance, and John Irving's irreverent, unflinching humor, Coyle spins a yarn worthy of a Tolkien trilogy." --Brion O'Connor, Boston Globe, July 7, 2005

"Coyle, a wordsmith of uncommon talent with an eye for the telling detail, has given us a meticulously reported, beautifully crafted book. He has shown us an Armstrong more complex than the one we thought we knew - and no less a hero." --Michael D. Schaeffer, Philadelphia Inquirer, June 29, 2005

"This book will change the way I watch the Tour this year and the way I think about the sport from now on. It is intensely riveting, revealing, and fair. You won’t be disappointed." --Charlie Melk , Daily Peloton, June 29, 2005

"Coyle's book paints a fascinating picture of Armstrong, gives life to the cast of characters around him and offers colorful detail and insight into the weight-obsessed, dangerous, ritualistic world of elite cycling. It does not duck the questions about doping that have dogged Armstrong since the 1999 Tour de France." --Philip Hersh, Chicago Tribune, June 28, 2005

"Coyle delivers inside baseball, right from the dugout. His book includes the best description of a crash I've ever read." --George Vecsey, New York Times, June 26, 2005

"The most intimate portrait we have of the finest living athlete. It is a measure of Armstrong's accomplishment that rather than deflating the myth, the infusion of reality Coyle delivers in Lance Armstrong's War seems to endow it with even greater power." --Michael Hardy, Houston Chronicle, June 24, 2005

“Superbly written, deeply researched…Lance Armstrong’s War takes readers inside Armstrong’s inner circle….Coyle delves into the lives and minds of Armstrong’s main 2004 Tour adversaries….And he offers great insight to the minute details and head games that fuel riders in the international peloton.” –-VeloNews, May 23, 2005

“An intimate, insightful, unflinching look at the greatest athlete of our time. Daniel Coyle has given us a hugely entertaining, nuanced portrait of a larger-than-life figure and his turbocharged world. I couldn’t put it down.” ––Jon Krakauer, author of Under the Banner of Heaven and Into Thin Air

“Daniel Coyle chases the soul of the man, his sport, and the Tour de France, seeing so much that you wonder if he was drafting on the bike behind Armstrong. Through his book we understand, for the first time, the true dimensions of Armstrong’s unconquerable spirit––and what makes him such an unapologetically competitive beast.” ––Buster Olney, author of The Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty

“In this brisk and brilliant book, Daniel Coyle captures the fabulous life and fast times of an international icon––and pierces the mystic heart of motivation itself.” ––Hampton Sides, author of Ghost Soldiers and Americana

[Lance Armstrong's War in Brief]

Lance Armstrong’s War is the vivid, behind-the-scenes portrait of Armstrong as he faces his biggest test: an historic sixth straight victory in the Tour de France, the toughest sporting event on the planet. Made newly vulnerable by age, fate, fame, doping allegations, and an unprecedented army of challengers, Armstrong fights on all fronts to do what he does like no one else: exert his will to win. We see how Armstrong rebuilds after his near-loss in the 2003 Tour, discovering new strategies to cope with his aging body. We see how he fills the holes in his life after his painful divorce from his wife, Kristin, and his ensuing time apart from his three young children. We see how he manages the exceedingly difficult trick of being Lance Armstrong—a combination of world-class athlete, celebrity, regular guy, and, for many Americans, secular saint.

But a saint’s life it’s not. To function at his peak, Armstrong requires what his friends artfully call “stimulus”—and if it’s lacking, he won’t hesitate to create some. We see Armstrong operating at the turbulent center of a fast-orbiting cast of swaggering Belgian tough-guys, controversial Italian sports doctors, piranha-toothed lawyers, and jittery corporations, not to mention a certain female rock star. We see the subtle mind games he plays with himself, and with top rivals Tyler Hamilton , Jan Ullrich, and Iban Mayo. We see what happens three weeks before the Tour, when he’s faced with a double challenge: a blowout defeat in an important race and the release of a potentially devastating book that alleges he may have used performance-enhancing drugs. And finally we see it all culminate in the Tour de France, where Armstrong will rise to new and unexpected levels of domination.

Along the way, Lance Armstrong’s War journeys through the little-known landscape of professional bike racing, a Darwinian world of unsurpassed beauty and brutality, a world teeming with underdogs, gurus, groupies, and wholly original characters. From the first training camps to the triumphal ride into Paris, Lance Armstrong’s War provides a hugely intimate and insightful look into the often-inspiring, always surprising core of this remarkable man and the world that shapes him.

[tour de france news]

Where to follow the race and find the latest scoops on Armstrong and his rivals

TdFblog.com:  An excellent compilation of breaking Tour news and discussion.

TourBlog2005: Ditto.

Bicycling Magazine’s Tour site: Check out Joe Lindsey’s usually insightful columns.

Procycling.com: Edgy blips on breaking stories from a good British cycling magazine.

VeloNews.com: News and roadside commentary from America’s top cycling magazine.

Cyclingnews.com: Lots of good stuff here, including live web coverage, stage summaries, unsurpassed archive system. 

DailyPeloton.com: Straight news and features with a Euro focus.

PezCyclingNews.com: Low-budget, gonzo enthusiasts who are fascinated by podium girls.

FloydLandis.com: Not updated enough, but anytime Floyd speaks, it’s bound to be good.

Michele Ferrari -- aka Dr. Evil -- has his own site.

ThePaceline.com: Official Lance and Discovery team site.

T-Mobile’s team site: Maybe it’s because they’re German—surprisingly objective stuff on all things Ullrich and Vino.

Eurosport.com: Race coverage and streaming video from Europe's answer to OLN

[good books]

The Yellow Jersey Companion to the Tour de France by Les Woodland (Yellow Jersey Press, London): If you don’t get any other Tour book, get this one. A wondrous encyclopedia by cycling’s most skilled and entertaining historian.

The Rider by Tim Krabbe (Bloomsbury USA): A cool novel that gets inside the head of a semi-pro cyclist during a half-day race in France.

Inside the Tour de France by David Walsh (Velo Press): Before he was Armstrong’s nemesis, Walsh wrote this book about the 1993 Tour, including a long profile of a certain Texan riding—and  getting his ass kicked—in his first-ever Tour.

Bobke and Bobke II, by Bob Roll (Velo Press): Rants and raves from cycling’s Neanderthal prince and Tour commentator.

[in the news]

This Dan Coyle story about Floyd Landis in the NY Times Magazine will get a lot of buzz, since it breaks the news that Landis is going to get an artificial hip as soon as he wins this year's Tour. (Bike racers—go figure!)

Look for Dan Coyle's story about Lance Armstrong's successor, Floyd Landis, in the July 2006 Outside.

[exclusive excerpt]

The Rock Star Wore Bike Shorts

In front of me, outlined in white halogen light, lay the Museum of Shit That Will Kill Them. Glistening silver on the workbench were the new Nike shoes with the Texas flag on one buckle and the world-champion rainbow insignia on the other. In the drawer below were the twenty identical Selle San Marco brand saddles, the ones Armstrong had sorted through as if he were selecting a cantaloupe, squeezing each until he found one or two keepers. There, above a bright plastic kiddie car and lawn mower, hung Sheryl Crow’s birthday present, the buffed-out silver team-edition Trek, along with a helmet inscribed with her equally new nickname, Juanita Cuervo (“cuervo” is Spanish for “crow.”) And there, swoopy and black in its stand, stood the piece de resistance, the new top-secret time-trial bike, the one whose features Armstrong had cryptically referred to in the press, about whose details the mechanics had been sworn to secrecy.

Lance and Sheryl
canoodling on the job

Outside the room, the courtyard echoed with the promising tap-dancer click of bike cleats, and trainer Michele Ferrari’s eyes flashed hopefully to see . . . not Armstrong but Juanita Cuervo herself, in lavender top, black tights, and cycling shoes that, while fine for a bike, produced rather less elegance on a stone floor.

“Hello hello hello,” she called.

Crow click-clacked gamely toward us, a fluoro-pink piece of gum being worked over by what a British music reviewer famously deemed “the sexiest mouth in rock.” She smiled and did her nice-to-meet-yous. With her new friend Odessa Gunn, the wife of American cyclist Levi Leipheimer, she seized her bike and wheeled it into the courtyard.

“You ready, girlfriend?” Gunn asked.

“Ready as I’m gonna be, babe,” Juanita replied, grasping the saddle and handlebars in the classic cyclist’s pose. She leaned it casually against her thigh as she cinched her helmet.

George Hincapie and Floyd Landis watched with anesthetized expressions. They’d met her before, at training camp, at a party, but it was still a lot to absorb: Sheryl Crow, a bona fide rock star—Eric Clapton’s old squeeze, for God’s sake—kitting up for a morning spin.

“You look ready, George,” Crow said.

“Nuh-uh.” Hincapie managed a shy smile. “I don’t feel ready.”

“Now now,” Crow warned. “Don’t try to fool me.”

Crow made microadjustments to the sleeves of her lavender top. She checked her shoes. She lifted her bike and thudded it testingly against the ground.

Out of Crow’s line of sight, Ferrari’s face started twitching and clicking. He had heard that she would be around . . . but riding a bike? Riding with Lance? His eyebrows began to jump seismically.

Behind Ferrari and Crow, a large yellow duffel bag on his shoulder, the king walked into the courtyard. This was the way he entered most rooms, checking things out from the jump with clear, assessing glances—or, preferably, even before he came into the room, doing the various background-checking that he called his homework. He was forever surprising people with how much he already knew about them—a flattering, slightly disconcerting moment for the visitor, but one that Armstrong handled with marked casualness. Because it was not his knowing that concerned him. It was yours.

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