“Sorry,” Hamilton says. “It just feels so good to be able to talk about this, finally.”
This exchange establishes the real arc of the book, which is less about destroying Armstrong and more about rehabilitating Hamilton—not for fans, necessarily, but for himself. The Hamilton that viewers saw on 60 Minutes was nervous and visibly conflicted about his decision to come clean and tell the truth. The Hamilton in The Secret Race is a different being altogether. It may just be the strength of Coyle’s writing, but the more Hamilton reveals—the more exhaustive his accounting of all the sins—the more confident his voice becomes. You sense the weight of all the lies being shed, chapter by chapter. By the end, Hamilton has journeyed so far beyond a mere thirst for revenge that he confesses that he feels sorry for Armstrong—a teammate who once tried to destroy him. He understands the pain involved with keeping the lies going for so long.
“I was sorry in the largest sense,” he writes, describing his emotions this past summer when he stared at a photo of Armstrong that he found in his garage. “Sorry for him as a person, because he was trapped, imprisoned by all the secrets and lies. I thought: Lance would sooner die than admit it, but being forced to tell the truth might be the best thing that ever happened to him.”
After finishing The Secret Race, I can’t help but agree. The morning after I finished it, I watched a video that Armstrong had released online for his supporters, looking them in the eye to boost their spirits and telling them it’s “time to move forward.” I could no longer see the famous self-confidence. His eyes looked tired. His voice sounded as though he were trying to convince himself. I felt sorry for him, too. I could feel the weight of all the deception.