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Exclusive: Q&A with ‘The Secret Race’ authors

  • By Neal Rogers
  • Published Sep. 5, 2012
  • Updated Sep. 5, 2012 at 8:16 PM EDT

VN: In the book you wrote about your time with Phonak. Floyd Landis has stated that team owner Andy Rihs supported his doping. Yet you never mentioned anything about Rihs being involved in any way.

TH: Andy Rihs and I never spoke of that topic (doping) at all. I was actually surprised when Floyd came out and said that Andy had been involved to some degree. We had never gone there.

VN: Andy Rihs and American Jim Ochowicz ran Phonak; they now run BMC Racing, the team of young Americans like Taylor Phinney and Tejay van Garderen. (Ochowicz is the godfather to Armstrong’s first son.) Given this, what do you say to American racing fans that desperately want to put the past behind them and believe in the next generation? Or, in a general sense, what are your thoughts regarding young riders who are in the hands of team management that may have been involved in doping in the past?

TH: My biggest hope here is that the young riders don’t have to make the same decision that I was put in. There are still some bad apples in the sport, and either they need to leave, or they need to change their mindset, and I think this book is going to help address this.

DC: The question to ask — is there a villain in the book? Lance is a human being, making choices. This is a story of the culture of the time, the culture of bike racing. It’s a bit like the culture of Wall Street in some ways. There was a “win at all costs” culture, and some good people did bad things. I don’t think Tyler, or anybody, is saying it’s time to punish people for committing sins. But I do think what he is saying is that culture is a powerful force. The culture is changing, and it’s worth applauding that change. I think Tyler believes in the future of the sport, like a lot of us do. When people read the book I think they will come away with a picture of a culture, and a picture of a time, when it was “win at all costs,” and that time has changed, as we see from the times on the road, and through improved testing.

TH: It’s changing, yes. I have an 11-year-old nephew who told me about a year ago that he wants to be a pro cyclist. When I heard that I felt like I had a big rock in my stomach. It was a little bit unsettling. Hopefully with this book… say this kid goes on to be a professional cyclist, hopefully he doesn’t have to make the choice that I had to make, that Darren Baker had to make, that Scott Mercier had to make. Some guys chose to continue, like myself; other guys chose to head back to San Francisco and go into the banking industry.

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Neal Rogers

Neal Rogers

Neal Rogers is editor in chief of Velo magazine and VeloNews.com. An interest in all things rock 'n' roll led him into music journalism while attending UC Santa Cruz, on the central coast of California. After several post-grad years spent waiting tables, surfing, and mountain biking, he moved to San Francisco, working as a bike messenger, and at a software startup. He moved to Boulder, Colorado, in 2001, taking an editorial internship at VeloNews. He never left. When not traveling the world covering races, he can be found riding his bike, skiing, or attending a concert.

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