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Lance Armstrong: Every Second Counts

Release date: 09th October, 2003
Publisher: Yellow Jersey Press

List Price: 16.99
Our Price: 11.10
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Although we are only a few days into January, a number of us will already be re-examining our new year's resolutions, wondering whether we can maintain the level of commitment required to attain something which just a week ago seemed like a life-enhancing decision. If the prospect of less drink or significant weight loss is casting a long shadow over your 2004, you should sit down and read Every Second Counts by Lance Armstrong.

The wavering resolutionist should immediately turn to page 29 and read the advice Armstrong's mother once gave him: "If anything is going to get done, you've got to do it."

Lance Armstrong's resolve is certainly beyond question. After being diagnosed as having testicular cancer, he battled through the effects of chemotherapy to emerge as a better rider and ultimately as the winner of the 1999 Tour de France. That episode of his life was covered in his first book, It's not about the bike, which won the 2000 sports book of the year award. Throughout this sequel, also co-written with Sally Jenkins, Armstrong makes continuous reference to his cancer, often stating it was the best thing that ever happened to him.

This might sound like a curious thing to say, but here Armstrong clarifies what he means: cancer stripped away his trepidation. He no longer ponders on whether he should or could do something; now he goes for it. It's an endearing attitude.

Some of the best moments in this book are the small asides, such as the description of the immediacy of his 1999 celebrity and the invitations from people such as Elton John, Kevin Costner and Robin Williams, many of whom would telephone the Armstrong household in person. This impressed Armstrong and his wife so much, "that sometimes we would save the messages on our answering machine and replay them, awed."

Despite his victorious comeback in 1999, many felt that Armstrong's victory in the Tour de France had been a fluke, but being written off clearly spurred him on in 2000.

His description of the first mountain stage of that Tour gives the clearest possible insight into the mind of a professional athlete imbued with the will to win. Armstrong's enormous desire, invariably laced with aggression, results in another remarkable turnaround. Starting the stage in 16th position and six minutes behind the leader, he finishes it in possession of the yellow jersey he would not relinquish for the rest of the race.

A similar attitude is displayed the following year when he goes head-to-head with Jan Ullrich; as he passes the German's bike, he stares long and hard into his eyes, the victor confirming superiority without a word being spoken.

But there are bad days too, in particular the final mountain stage of the 2000 Tour when Armstrong made the mistake of missing a feeding station and ends on the verge of collapse.

A rapidly-assembled description of the 2003 Tour de France has been added (in slightly different type face) in the chapter entitled 'Another Ending', but rather than detract from the earlier content, this serves to enhance what is another inspirational story: it's one which should be read by anyone planning to keep a difficult new year's promise.

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