Stages of Light and Dark
by Bjarne Riis
I read this book for Cycling Shorts during the summer and it has taken me a long time to finally put my thoughts about it into words. Not that I have mixed feelings about the book I do not but I needed to take time to try to put into words my thoughts as I suspected that I might just be a little controversial.
I believe it is important for us to confront the issues raised and Riis was the fifth book I read in the summer that dealt with drugs in cycling. The first was Paul Kimmage’s Rough Ride, the second was David Millar’s Racing through the Dark [read Cycling Shorts review here], the third Laurent Fignon’s We were young and carefree, fourth Willy Voet’s Breaking the Chain [read my review here]. Each book gave me a different perspective or view of doping and substance abuse and its inherent and historic nature in cycling.
Each subsequent book made me feel that Paul Kimmage was being very unfairly treated as he really only scratched the surface and really did not reveal as much as others but what was clear is that he had opened pandoras box and the establishment was not happy.
What Riis has done with his book has really given a broad insight into the hard work and stresses that face a professional cyclist. Just like other cyclists Bjarne faces that difficult decision to dope or not to dope. Riis makes it totally clear that it was his call and his alone. No one forced him no one pushed him but he felt he had no option. Just like Darth Vader Riis stepped over to the darkside. Just like Lance; Riis, when quizzed never actually said he did not dope but edged answers in the same way any good politician does, “I have never tested positive, I have never given a positive test” rang out, persuading fans and team mates that he was clean. But was he, like others, fooling anyone? Probably not those close to the riders who often had a clear idea of what was happening but kept their heads down (to listen to Cycling Shorts interview with Ned Boulting on the subject click here).
As with Voets and Millar, Riis is very open about what he did and how me managed to avoid detection, however Riis goes further and deals with the effect on him emotionally of his choice. Like Millar he comes back and has a desire, or so he claims, to help clean up the sport and run a lean and clean team. The book covers the setting up and running of CSC which greatly complements the Nordisk film Overcoming about the 2004 Tour de France. Riis goes on to share his deep feeling of being stabbed in the back with the implosion of the team as the Shleck’s, Andersen, Nygaard and backroom staff plot against him and set up Leopard Trek. Once again Riis bounces back and with the drive an passion he has for the sport he loves he manages to rebuild and create a new team.
Riis’s book is a great read and I am surprised that Cycling News can write the article below. Pederson and the author of the article have obviously never read Riis Stages of Light and Dark as Riis clearly speaks out about his past in full. In my view, no he is not damaging cycling and its credibility, he has messed up and is trying his best to make amends.
Riis Stages of Light and Dark is a great read and I would highly recommend that you dash out and pick up a copy to read. 100%
Riis: Stages of Light and Dark
Vision Sports Publishing (14 May 2012)
Available in paperback, iBook & Kindle
RRP £12.99 (Paperback) RRP £12.99 (Digital)
Riis damaging cycling and its credibility, Danish UCI member says
By: Cycling NewsPublished: November 28, 2012, 17:05, Updated: November 28, 2012, 17:06Edition:Second Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Saxo-Tinkoff team owner needs to “come out and talk”
Bjarne Riis and his teams have established Danish cycling in the world, but his actions now are “very damaging to the sport and its credibility,” according to the Danish representative at the UCI. It is “high time for Bjarne Riis to come out and talk.”
Riis confessed in 2007 to having doped when he was a rider. He has since been named as providing doping advice, if not more, in various books and doping confessions from recent riders. The Saxo-Tinkoff team owner has consistently refused to comment on such matters.
“Here in Denmark we have a single problem in Bjarne Riis,” Peder Pedersen told feltet.dk. “His team and his comings and goings have been tremendously positive for the development of Danish cycling and the resulting high interest.
“But he keeps quiet at the moment and will neither confirm nor deny the allegations that are against him, it is very damaging to the sport and its credibility. All who follow it here can see that there are answers missing to some things, giving insecurity and losing credibility. So it is high time that Bjarne Riis comes out and talks.”
Since 2006, Pedersen has been a member of the Anti-Doping Foundation (CADF), set up to work with doping cases and to stay on top of anti-doping testing and developments. He is aware of the ironies involved.
“I have been involved in the Anti-doping Foundation for six years, where I have a clear conscience about what we have done. Of course it’s very uncomfortable, it appears at the moment. Although most of it belongs to the past, we should not be blind to the fact that it also reaches into the present and in the future. With the revelations that have come, then that is what we really need to make sure to get it handled.”
Seven Deadly Sins
My Pursuit of Lance Armstrong
by David Walsh
David Walsh’s Sisyphus has finally emerged victorious over his eternal struggle with the boulder – half man, half media – named Lance Armstrong. Beautifully written, shocking, occasionally heartbreaking, often resulting in the ‘ah, of course, now that makes sense’ sigh. A vindication, indeed beacon of hope, to all real journalists eking a living out there in the nether world that professional sport has become. Ask the questions that demand asking, without fear. Cycling is a truly great sport, once a leveller, it will be all the better for the eradication of the blind romanticism, myth-making and marketing that the wearying followers of Mammon seem to pedal each and every year. Thank you David, I just wish I had said it to you when you stood almost alone. I’m awarding this book 100% just for sheer persistence!
Read this book and enjoy riding and racing your bike in 2013.
Have a warm and wonderful Christmas and a very happy New Year.
Seven Deadly Sins: My Pursuit of Lance Armstrong
Simon & Schuster UK; Hardback edition (13 Dec 2012)
Available in Hardback, iBook & Kindle
RRP £18.99 (Hardback) RRP £8.99 (Paperback) RRP £9.99 (Digital)
Breaking the Chain
Drugs and Cycling – The True Story
by Willy Voet – Translated by William Fotheringham
Wow what a book. If you had ever wondered how and why the Festina incident exploded or rather imploded during the 1998 Tour de France then this is the book to read. A read that will be hard to put down and if you do will be itching to pick it up as soon as you can! Written by the Festina Team soigneur Willy Voet, the man who was caught red handed with a car full of team drugs. He shows you the murky world of team meds and doping from insiders perspective, it’s quite horrifying.
Actually this book goes much much further then you might have ever imagined, many riders who have used and abused drugs both legal and less then legal are named and in some instances shamed. You will also find out how riders are able to use banned substances and avoid testing positive by either timing of doses or the types of drugs and mixes used. In fact Mr Voet goes a step further and explains how within twenty minutes a rider can take an IV solution that will ensure the rider does not fail a random out of competition test, very convenient if the tester turns up while the rider is in the shower!
This book goes beyond any other book I have read about doping and certainly leaves nothing to the imagination, it also confirms many of the facts disclosed by other books I have read. There is so much more that I would love to tell you about but then it would not be worth you reading the book!
The bottom line is go out and buy a copy, it might not give you all the answers but I can guarantee that it will certainly get you thinking!
PS. If you think Lance is above and beyond suspicion then I would recommend that you read this book and some of the recent revelations from his soigneur are confirmed by Willy as standard practice at the time. It also ties in nicely with some of the issues covered in David Millar’s autobiography (Racing Through The Dark – The Fall and Rise of David Millar, read our review here) they make good companion books. This gets a Cycling Shorts Star Buy rating of 100%… the first!
This really is a must read if you want to make an informed decision about the state of cycling pre and post 1998.
Breaking the Chain: Drugs and Cycling – The True Story
Author: Willy Voet – Translated by William Fotheringham
Published by Yellow Jersey Press & Vintage Digital
Available in Paperback, iBook & Kindle
RRP £8.99 (Paperback), RRP £8.99 (eBook)
Racing Through the Dark
The Fall and Rise of David Millar
by David Millar
I have read many autobiographies about cyclists over the years, but none of them can be compared to this magnificent book by David Millar.
The story can be read on two levels. The first is the most obvious one: a review of one of the most important and decisive periods in contemporary cycling: the end of the nineties and the beginning of the 21st century (the controversial Lance Armstrong era), recorded by an insider. The second is more universal: it is the tale of the loss of innocence, the psychologically fully acceptable story of how a talented young person gets drawn into a world of corruption and foul play, driven by the hunger for success and recognition, and how this world makes this acceptable, because everybody is playing by the same “rules” and the “real world” is well hidden and seems reassuringly far away (a term recently used by Armstrong’s in his defence as he declined to fight his longterm battle with USADA, ‘I played by the rules of the time’). In David Millar’s case, the protagonist survives, and returns on a higher level, an advocate of stronger anti-doping regulations, which, sadly enough, can’t be said of many heroes in many similar stories.
For the real cycling fan, “Racing through the Dark” contains a tremendous amount of background information of how things worked in the pro teams at the time of the 1998 Festina Tour de France: we see how the Cofidis team was organised, we see how “stars” like Philippe Gaumont and Frank Vandenbroucke were behaving like real lunatics, taking drugs before major races, and getting away with it, as long as results were good…We learn how the practice of injections used for recuperation was omnipresent, and how one step leads to the other, as was the case for Millar when he was staying in the house of one of his Italian teammates, who is called “l’Equipier” in the book, but who, in my opinion, can’t be anyone else but Massimiliano Lelli.
We also get a nice insight into contemporary racing, because, luckily, Millar’s racing days weren’t over after he‘d got caught. There is the story of his meeting with the flamboyant JV (Jonathan Vaughters), his friendship with Stuart O’Grady, the Commonwealth Games in India together with Cav (Mark Cavendish), who is described in a very positive way, participating in the Tour de France with a young Bradley Wiggins, who comes across to me to be a rather selfish person, not a team player.
And then there is the second level, the extraordinarily intelligent and well written story of the fall and rise of a talented sportsman, originally from Scotland, who, after his parents get divorced, spends his youth partly in Hong Kong, and partly in England, where his mother and sister still live. We follow his story, how he comes to France to become a pro cyclist, how he reaches top level, winning the yellow jersey in the Tour de France, living the life of a superstar, dwelling in Monaco and Biarritz, how he gets caught for doping practices, and falls into depression, but, sustained by the help of his sister and a few good friends eventually crawls back, and reaches the highest level again, clean and more satisfied this time.
It is this story of “redemption”, as Millar calls it, that makes the book more interesting than the average autobiography of well- known sportsmen, it shows the reader how easily one can make the wrong decisions, how gradually a naïve ambitious youngster chooses the side of the cheating colleagues, and how living in a protected, small universe makes one unaware of what is morally acceptable in the “real world”.
Racing through the Dark is a must read for every cycling fan, who is not only interested in facts and figures, but also enjoys reading a fine story that makes us understand what was going on in the pro teams in the recent past, and makes us hope that there is still a future for cycling.
Racing Through the Dark – The Fall and Rise of David Millar
Author: David Millar
Published by Orion
Available in Paperback, iBook & Kindle
RRP £8.99 (Paperback), RRP £8.99 (eBook), RRP £18.99 (Hardback)