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Lance Armstrong’s achievement (as vividly detailed in Daniel Coyle’s Lance Armstrong: Tour de Force) has been one of the most astonishing in recent sporting history, not least for the reasons detailed in the book’s strapline: tough guys, flawed heroes and one man’s battle for ultimate supremacy. This is the remarkable story of a man who triumphed over all the odds — a behind-the-scenes record of the 2004 professional cycling season and the manner in which Armstrong landed his sixth Tour de France victory. What makes the book particularly inspiring is the fact that Armstrong is no superman — he talks about the many strikes against him (his age, the dissolving of his team and — most of all — his triumph over potentially lethal illness (his struggle against cancer is, of course, well-known).Coyle takes us from the cyclist’s turbulent youth in Texas through his many achievements in the cycling field (notably his near loss in the 2003 tour), and his massive struggles against a series of disasters that would have floored most of us: his difficult divorce and subsequent separation from his children and, finally, the terrifying revelation of his cancer. The section on the various solutions that Armstrong tried (including new age healers and radical Italian sports doctors) makes for particularly fascinating reading: as Armstrong realised that his solutions lay elsewhere, there is a genuinely inspirational note here.
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