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Publisher's Summary

The first in-depth look at Lance Armstrong's doping scandal, the phenomenal business success built on the back of fraud, and the greatest conspiracy in the history of sports.

Lance Armstrong won a record-smashing seven Tours de France after staring down cancer, and in the process became an international symbol of resilience and courage. In a sport constantly dogged by blood-doping scandals, he seemed above the fray. Then, in January 2013, the legend imploded. He admitted doping during the Tours and, in an interview with Oprah, described his "mythic, perfect story" as "one big lie". But his admission raised more questions than it answered - because he didn't say who had helped him dope or how he skillfully avoided getting caught.

Wall Street Journal reporters Reed Albergotti and Vanessa O'Connell broke the news at every turn. In Wheelmen they reveal the broader story of how Armstrong and his supporters used money, power, and cutting-edge science to conquer the world's most difficult race. Wheelmen introduces U.S. Postal Service Team owner Thom Weisel, who in a brazen power play ousted USA Cycling's top leadership and gained control of the sport in the United States, ensuring Armstrong's dominance. Meanwhile, sponsors fought over contracts with Armstrong as the entire sport of cycling began to benefit from the "Lance effect". What had been a quirky, working-class hobby became the pastime of the Masters of the Universe set.

Wheelmen offers a riveting look at what happens when enigmatic genius breaks loose from the strictures of morality. It reveals the competitiveness and ingenuity that sparked blood-doping as an accepted practice, and shows how the Americans methodically constructed an international operation of spies and revolutionary technology to reach the top. At last exposing the truth about Armstrong and American cycling, Wheelmen paints a living portrait of what is, without question, the greatest conspiracy in the history of sports.

©2013 Reed Albergotti and Vanessa O'Connell (P)2013 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"Authoritative and overflows with forceful details.... Albergotti and O'Connell write like insiders looking out." (Los Angeles Times)

"A chilling tale, and many of the anecdotes Albergotti and O’Connell collected sound like they were actually crafted in a TV-drama writers’ room." (The Atlantic)

"Reed Albergotti and Vanessa O’Connell uncovered plenty more shocking details about the full extent of Armstrong’s drug use as well as the many people and institutions that helped him." (The Daily Beast)

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What listeners say about Wheelmen

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Detailed and balanced account

If you want to know what went on behind the scenes during Armstrong's 7 TDF victories, this book does a good job bringing out the facts. It's well organized and give an outsider's view of the details as compiled from the written evidence and participant interviews. You also get to hear about all the people who either facilitated the fraud or fought against it. It's more of a journalists version, and not as "personal" as probably one of the best accounts I've read, Tyler Hamilton's "The Secret Race."

11 people found this helpful

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Very well written, hard to put down!

Any additional comments?

I've read or listened to many books on this subject. As an cyclist I idolized Lance for years. If it weren't for him I would probably not have gotten as into the sport as I have and almost certainly wouldn't have started racing. The book is a nice compilation of his story of both winning and his downfall. I've thought for the past 8 years that he had been doping for his whole career, so his admission to that wasn't surprising. The surprising and disappointing part of his story is the collateral damage of so many people whose lives he threatened or ruined. I'd definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in the subject.

9 people found this helpful

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New era

After the 2017 TDF Lance did a pod cast called "stages". It was really good, insightful, funny, entertaining - something you do not get from the commentaries of Alan Partridgeesque Phil Liggit.

The truth is, yes they were ALL doping. Lance was a bit of a bully so people want to take him down a peg or two, or more. Did he entertain? Are we reading this book with avid interest while falling asleep through the Cadel Evans story...

It's a good book, worth a read/listen

5 people found this helpful

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Mind blowing inside look at the scandal of the century

The Lance Armstrong doping scandal was the most crushing sports scandal of the 21st century. It combined the audacity of a man, whose ego knows no bounds, an awe struck public, and a culture of celebrity worship that does not question inconsistencies but worships unabashedly. This book is matter of fact in its assertion of Armstrong, and though truthful about his outrageous narcissism, it never completely bashes him. If anything, this book reflects our culture.

This story isn’t just about Armstrong. But it is about the win at all costs, corrupt culture of sports in general. Not just athletes, but coaches, heads of corporations, and sponsors feed the corruption. The list goes on and on. Santino Fontana, a brilliant actor and stage performer, is a revelation as a narrator. Here’s to hoping he continues to use his talents as a narrator, on a variety of material.

3 people found this helpful

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Great book and great narration

Any additional comments?

This was a book written by great reporters with knowledge for the sport— Reed Albergotti is a competitive amateur cyclist.The narration suited the book terrifically. It went at just the right pace, with suitable inflections and voices for quotes.

3 people found this helpful

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Detailed and Balanced

This was a very detailed and balanced look at the doping life of Lance Armstrong. It painted him as neither a villain or a hero, but more that of an intensely driven athlete who was willing to do anything to win, including lying and cheating. The book left me with the feeling that while the authors probablty didn't particularly like Lance, they also were willing to let the reader/listener make up their own mind about him. What more can you ask? Overall the writing was excellent as was the audio performance. Very, very well done.

2 people found this helpful

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Reads like a drama. Hard to put down

Wheelmen isn't just about Armstrong and cycling races, and it isn't just about doping. It gives instead a dramatic big picture of how the interests moving around Armstrong (team’s management, sponsors, politicians, cycling international authorities) made possible that the biggest frauds in the contemporary sport was carried forward for so many years. It also reminds us how gullible (and starving for absolute role models) we all are when we "buy into" a “perfect hero” that the media like to present us time to time. Finally, it is about the greed, the arrogance and total lack of moral boundaries of a man –Lance Armstrong- for whom only victory and fame mattered.
The narration is also very good : Santino Ferrara is at his best..
Can't recommend this highly enough even if you –like me- do not have particular interest about cycling.

2 people found this helpful

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Pronunciations not correct.

Would you be willing to try another one of Santino Fontana’s performances?

Narrator was ok except pronunciations were not how people normally pronounce them. EX: Hincapie is typically pronounced Hin - CA - pie. . . NOT . . . HIN - cu - pie. Very grating to the ear.

4 people found this helpful

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Great story well narrarated

Interesting and compelling story told from a nuanced perspective, will listen to again . Lance has a complicated story

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Held my attention, told the tale at dinner each night

This book is well written and researched. Lance Armstrong certainly doesn’t come out looking pretty. It’s too bad because he clearly worked hard but he was also driven by greed and the desire to be admired. He seems to have been emotionally immature. I enjoyed listening to the story as it is so intertwined with our tour of France history. Fascinating.

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  • James
  • 08-26-16

In Depth Review

Where does Wheelmen rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

The most in depth review of the mirky waters of cycling and Lance Arsmtrong that I have read or listened to.