When I first learned of Bill Stricklands book, 'Tour De Lance', I thought it was just 'another return of' Lance book. Initially, I was dreading it thinking it will be a sugar coated comeback pill. Hard to swallow. Well, I was wrong. My reading experience turned from complacent then cresting up to exhilaration.
Photo: Art Streiber
Strickland has a unique view, literally, of the insides of the 2009 Astana's machine. What a perspective as he writes in detail of the two fiery teammates; Contador & Armstrong. The two stars; one youthful & the aging veteran left me wanting more of their cordial hatred towards each other. You'd think mastermind, Bruyneel brought the two hot heads together to create clever marketing drama.
What I enjoyed is that Strickland doesn't merely hover on the periphery he's full in it. He has access to Johan Bruyneel and the team. Access restricted? Not for him! He roams freely in the close confines of the team car witnessing tactics & strategies even helping at the finish line giving out mussettes.
Strickland's insider account of other riders are further insightful. Dave Zabriskie is one of cycling's quirky. His experience going through a three week Tour with his body depleting itself through hardship is both funny & revealing. Zabriskie explains, "You become stupider and stupider and stupider. You start to do things like leave your riding shoes behind in the hotel room, which is bad enough, but then you can also barely understand why your director is upset with you for doing it. You're not suffering. It's way past that. You're disappearing."
However, the star shines on Armstrong. Strickland believes he's only really at peace on a bike. "His years away from the sport were just a train wreck. He's a guy with so much energy, and so much drive, that he spins out of control," he says. Strickland is now convince that Armstrong is clean. After having time to digest this read, I have a better understanding of his comeback reoriented to selflessly raising awareness about cancer.
Dave Zabriskie cruising at the 2009 Giro.