For 23 days in July an enthralled global audience watched Lance Armstrong battle to win the 2004 Tour de France. His victory made history. For, in the 2004 Tour, Armstrong had pledged to do the unthinkable, to win a record-breaking sixth consecutive victory; a feat no one had achieved in the Tour's 100-year lifetime. But with stiff competition from Jan 'the Kaiser' Ullrich and others his success was by no means guaranteed. Armstrong admitted his 2003 performance was 'not acceptable' and that the gruelling cycling regime had taken a lot out of him.
The resulting 2004 Tour was absolutely riveting as, following a slow start, Armstrong bulldozed his way to the lead. But Armstrong is no stranger to single-minded determination. Although diagnosed with secondary cancer earlier in his career, it took only 518 days before he was back in the saddle. His turnaround revealed the mental resources which make him a cycling legend.
Veteran cycling reporter John Wilcockson's gripping account of the 2004 Tour focuses on just these sort of psychological and strategic dimensions. Using his intimate knowledge of the participants and interviews with the major players, Wilcockson tells the human side of the Tour from the perspective of the principal contenders. His vivid description of life inside the most