The book is an easy read and the reader gets all the information on his life before and during his illness. Still, after a while into the book, the same feeling creeps into me, as happens when I see Armstrong nowadays. I just do not believe him completely anymore. As everyone else I was well impressed when he won his first Tour de France 3 years ago. Someone, who had a small chance of surviving a terrible disease, manages to come back and wins the highlight of my tv-watching-sports-year.
We get to know the little Lance, the young sportsman, the one I liked. Always on the attack, never one to look at traditions or unwritten rules. Nothing wrong with that. You win one day, the next your last, that is how the sport goes. Then came cancer. He describes the whole process from day one until the end, which must be a huge bright light for anybody in the same position. Doctor's told him afterwards that although they told him he had a 40% chance of living, 3% was more what they really thought.
The psychological problems after being cured seem very understandable. But the Armstrong we get to know as a complete control freak, who had to know everything during his treatment, who considers himself half a doctor for all he knows, then starts telling us the story about his win in the Tour de France. Moreover, there are several mistakes in there. How is this possible? I know he did not write the book himself, Sally Jenkins is the co-author, I assume she wrote the whole thing he told her. But why does a control freak leave mistakes in a book, that any cycling fan can point out? The only reason I can think of is that this is a 'feel-good'-book. Written for the masses, not for cycling fans. It does not really matter if everything is 100% correct, as long as the story is dramatic.
Nevertheless, to me, it means that if that bit is incorrect, so could other bits be. Bits I do not know anything about. But the question the French press asked, ("How can somebody who has been so near to death come out so strong and beat every one else without using dope?") seems very logical. Instead of attacking the press for asking that particular question, he could just answer it. He doesn't. My doubts are there. Insiders say that every single professional cyclist uses. So why wouldn't Armstrong? He had to use EPO during his treatment, nowadays all sportsmen use that exact product. So only Armstrong doesn't? And still manages to beat them all? Too much doubt in my mind. I wouldn't go as far as to ask the question how it is possible that a 25 year old who is very fit suddenly gets cancer, but I have to admit the thought has crossed my mind. Not a nice thought.
Read this book, if you want to read the incredible story of a sportsman who manages to beat cancer. If you're a cycling fan like me, read it critically. It's the only way.
By the way, Armstrong, big favourite to win his fourth consecutive Tour de France this very moment, is second at the time, near yellow jersey Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano. He is still the favourite to win it, but the power he has shown in the last three years, seems to have faded.