Lance Armstrong, Oprah Winfrey, Tyler Hamilton & Ayrton Senna walk into a bar…

Shall I go on about Lance? I think we all have an opinion on it, good or bad but personally I don’t think we learned anything we didn’t already know in Lance’s chat with Oprah. Only that a quick check of Oprah’s wiki page that she was actually meant to be called Orpah, yet for a spelling mistake on the birth certificate. Unfortunately the single mother, poverty stricken family she was brought up in weren’t able to back date any important and official documents, maybe Lance could’ve checked his address book for her? Anyway, out of all I read the day after the broadcast, this article was one of the best written ‘How To Play The Confessor Without Actually Confessing’


I read Tyler Hamilton’s book ‘The Secret Race’ in a week. It was a fascinating read, very well written and very honest. If Lance wasn’t such an aggressive and nasty person, perhaps he may have emerged from this whole affair with an iota of respect that his accomplices have done. There are two pieces from the book that really stood out to me. First of all:

“You can talk all you want about BB’s (Blood Bags) and the Edgar (EPO); you can call me a cheater and a doper until the cows come home. But the fact remains that in a race where everybody had equal opportunity, I played the game and I played it well. I took a chance and I pushed myself as hard as I could, and when the day was over, I finished first.”

Really honest and strong words from Tyler Hamilton talking about himself. Did everybody have equal opportunity? Or did they (Lance, Tyler et al) immerse themselves in a culture that created a circle, or an exclusive club, where doping wasn’t available to everyone. Or not at least on this scale. Lance’s private jet to Valencia wasn’t chartered for the entire peloton was it? Either way, this one extract really emphasizes the need and desire to win at all costs. There is no beating around the bush – they needed this to win, a spiraling out of control environment that ripped through peoples lives and left the nice guy finishing last.

Secondly, what brings it back to a slight twinkle of humanity is towards the end of the book:

“James (a special needs pupil) did great. He was strong and determined. When we got to the top, James was as stoked as if he’d just climbed Alpe d’Huez. I was too.
“Now that I’d told the truth, I was tuning into life again. I could talk to someone without having to worry or backtrack or figure out their motives, and it felt fantastic. I felt as if I were back in 1995, before all this bullshit started.”

This full circle of enjoying the basic and most fundamental part of why you took up a sport is apparent in this section. It also rings bells of the tear jerking truth in the film ‘Senna’. This incredible biopic from 2011 tells the story of Ayrton Senna with the most incredible footage and real life story. This film starts and ends with Senna’s early karting days.

“’78 I came to Europe to compete for the first time. It was pure driving, it was real racing. That makes me happy”

When asked at the end of the film about his most precious racing memories – baring in mind the guy had won countless Formula 1 races, drivers titles , driven the best cars in the world beyond their limits, developed the sport beyond the realms of sport itself – he recalled his memories of karting being the best and that he held most precious. There were no politics, no cheating, no egos. It was pure racing. It’s great to read that Tyler Hamilton had the same wave of emotion when he rediscovered the grass roots of why we take up sport. We all have a bit of the great Ayrton Senna in us. That’s why we bust a ball everyday, every week, every year to compete at whatever level.


About James Wilson

Trying to get to Kona over a 3 year period. Starting from scratch, to targeting the Big Island in 2016

Posted on January 23, 2013, in Cycling, reading, Useful and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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