It's hard not to judge Mr Armstrong. He has been labeled as a bully and a cheat and it's hard to imagine a cycling fan who doesn't have an opinion on the doping scandal that surrounds him. Even those with little interest in the sport have been drawn into the debate. The excuse that 'everyone else was doing it too' is quite frankly, unacceptable. For an athlete in his position as a role model and sporting icon there is just no excuse that would ever be acceptable. There are always two sides to every story though and I wanted to read this to see this whole sorry mess from the other side.
The Secret Race focused on things from the riders' viewpoint, but with Wheelmen we get to fill in more of the blanks and see things from the outside looking in. It seems that everyone has an opinion on this and the interviewee's didn't hold back. Not surprisingly the anti doping crowd have a lot to say here but it's all the little anecdotes and views of the people not usually heard from that make this book worth reading. The wives of team mates, ex girlfriends, retired riders, cycling officials, close family... The cast of characters is lengthy. Overall, it still doesn't paint Lance in a better light (it's hard to imagine anything that could do that) but if nothing else it does highlight the motivation behind his actions.
For anyone who has been following the scandal (or Lance's career) there will be quite a bit here that has already been covered in other places, but there were just enough new details and interviews to hold my interest. It feels almost voyeuristic reading about someone's fall from grace in such detail but it makes for gripping reading.
Do I feel any different about Lance after reading this? Not really, but to be fair there were moments where I could see 'why' the decisions were made, even if I didn't agree with them.
It's a very well written book and eminently readable and I'd recommend it as required reading for anyone who has been following Lance's rise and fall.
*I was sent a complimentary copy of this by the publisher