Tour de Lance, by Bill Strickland

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The Independent Culture

A year ago to the day, Lance Armstrong set off to try to win his eighth Tour de France, having come out of a four-year retirement at the age of 37. The twist was that his biggest threat, the young Spaniard Alberto Contador, was in his Astana team.

And they didn't get on, in a big way. Bill Strickland shadowed Armstrong in his preparations and in the race itself, often in the team director's car. His account of the American's doomed attempt is a masterly piece of reportage stuffed with expert insights into the Tour's Byzantine tactics.

A self-confessed fan, he does not shy away from the doping allegations that have dogged Armstrong, returning a Scottish verdict of "not proven". Equally elusive is Armstrong's motive for returning; he said it is to publicise his cancer charity but a team insider claims: "He's a killer, and missed killing." Armstrong has just embarked on what he claims is his final Tour. This book can't tell you what will happen but it will undoubtedly help you understand why it did.

Published in hardback by Mainstream, £12.99