Malcolm Lange, one of the most successful sportsmen in South African history, launched his book, Is Winning Everything? Success as defined by cycling legend Malcolm Lange, at a function in Sandton, Johannesburg on Tuesday night.
The 39-year-old Lange, who retired from professional road cycling in 2011, collaborated with leading cycling journalist, Sean Badenhorst, to pen the 200-page book, which offers not only a highlights summary of his two-decade long racing career, but includes in-depth opinion on key topics such as Olympic selection, doping in cycling and black rider development.
It also taps into the versatility and experience of the 1992 Olympian, a man that was able to win races on the track and on the road, ranging in distances from a 1000-metre time trial to a 200-kilometre road race. The multiple national champion, who also won every major South African road race at least once, offers advice on how to win, using his own successes – and failures – as examples. The chapter ‘How to win’ is a must-read for any ambitious cyclist.
With 409 career race victories to his name, Lange is one of the most prolific cycle race winners anywhere in the world. He racked up most of those wins in South Africa after returning to his home country from Europe in 1996, following his refusal to pursue his career with the use of performance enhancing drugs.
“Many critics said that I was too soft and unable to succeed in Europe, but I won at least 20 races in three seasons in Europe as an amateur between 1993 and 1995. When I turned professional for a Belgian team in 1996 I realised what I was up against. If I wanted to be chasing podium places consistently in Europe, I would have to adopt a win-at-all-costs approach, which meant putting my health and my integrity at risk and start doping. That wasn’t an option for me,” explains Lange in the book.
Up against a system he had no control over, Lange chose to return home and race on the growing domestic circuit with a clear conscience, prepared to call it quits if necessary and constantly wondering what might have been had his beloved sport been clean at the highest international level. Such is his conviction to see professional cycling cleaned up that he’s donating R10 (US $1.20) from the sale of every copy of the book to the South African Institute for Drug-free Sport.
The recent revelations from the 1000-plus-page US Anti-doping Agency report, ‘Reasoned Decision’, reveal that the sport of international professional road racing was undoubtedly tainted at the highest level from at least 1998-2010. Lange’s professional racing career began in 1996 and ended in 2011.
Although it explores the doping topic, the book isn’t an I-told-you-so pity search. It offers insight, as told by Lange, into the life of a naturally talented professional sportsman with a high work ethic and includes his early days as a schoolboy, his personal life and his transition from bicycle racer to businessman.
Throughout the book Lange consistently emphasises the significance of having a strong team in order to achieve road-racing success. This theme is mirrored by the many comments from other successful South Africans in the book, including influential businessmen who have crossed paths with Lange over the years.
The book was officially launched on Tuesday night at a function at Summer Place, Sandton. Lange’s friend and latest cycling convert, investigative TV show journalist, Derek Watts, was the master of ceremonies, with the invited guests being a number of Lange’s former teammates and sponsors and current sponsors, including senior management personnel from Bonitas, the company that helped launch the book project and which is the title sponsor of the professional racing team Lange now owns.