Marco Pantani


January 24, 2022

Marco Pantani (Cesena, January 13, 1970 - Rimini, February 14, 2004) was an Italian road cyclist, with the characteristics of a pure climber. Nicknamed "the Pirate" (or "Pantadattilo", a nickname given to him by the journalist Gianni Mura), he is considered one of the strongest pure climbers of all time for his uphill records and the accolades from other runners. Professional from 1992 to 2003, he achieved a total of 46 career victories, with the best results in stage races. He consigned himself to history for having entered the small group of athletes capable of hitting the so-called "Giro-Tour double", triumphing in the tours of Italy and France in the same year (1998); chronologically, he was the last cyclist (after Fausto Coppi, Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault, Stephen Roche and Miguel Indurain) to succeed. He also won the bronze medal at the online world championships in 1995. he has the fastest ascent times on the most prestigious passes of the Tour, Mont Ventoux (46:00) and Alpe d'Huez (36:50) . Charly Gaul, whom Pantani often contends for the title of greatest climber in history, recognized Pantani's superior skills, as did his contemporary and his opponent Lance Armstrong. His background and recovery skills, as well as a sprinter and downhill skier, have also been widely recognized. His career was studded with more or less serious accidents and setbacks, which on several occasions made it difficult (but exciting for the public) to return to competitions. Excluded from the 1999 Giro d'Italia due to a hematocrit value above the permitted one, he was affected by the media hype aroused by the story. Although he returned to competitions the following year, he only sporadically reached the levels he was accustomed to, withdrawing a lot and indulging in the use of drugs, such as cocaine, in his private life. Falling into depression, he died on February 14, 2004 in Rimini from acute poisoning by cocaine and antidepressant psychotropic drugs with consequent pulmonary and cerebral edema, as proven by the autopsy in 2004 and by a subsequent forensic report in 2015. The circumstances of his death , like those of his exclusion from the Giro 1999, are still the subject of debate by some.


The beginnings and the transition to professionalism

Marco Pantani was born at 11:45 am on January 13, 1970 at the "Maurizio Bufalini" hospital in Cesena, second son of Ferdinando Pantani, known as Paolo, and Tonina Belletti, who sold wraps and watercresses in a kiosk on the Cesenatico seafront. Until 1978, he lived in a house in via Saffi in Cesenatico, owned by his grandparents Sotero and Delia. He spent a peaceful childhood; he did not excel in school studies, but threw himself headlong into sports, hunting and fishing, which he practiced with the company, respectively, of his father and grandfather. After having tried his hand at football at a very young age, he received a bicycle as a gift from his grandfather Sotero and immediately understood that he was brought to cycling. Thus he decided to join the "Fausto Coppii" Cycling Group of Cesenatico and immediately showed undoubted skills as a great climber, winning many races. His first success came on April 22, 1984 on the curiously flat track of the Case Castagnoli di Cesena. In 1986 he experienced the first two of the unfortunate accidents that would have characterized his career: one day, during a training, he got distracted, hit a stationary truck and remained in a coma for 24 hours. On a subsequent occasion, he crashed downhill into a car and was in the hospital for a week with several fractures. In his junior years, he participated in three editions of the Giro d'Italia amateurs: in 1990 he was third, in 1991 second and in 1992 first, ahead of Vincenzo Galati and Andrea Noè, also conquering the climbers classification. In August 1992, in keeping with an old informal pre-agreement

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