Pantani was a champion within the context of his time (as one french or italian soccer manager described Armstrong after the retroactive L' Equipe '99 EPO positive drama ) and that does not diminish how great he was to watch. He was the classic climber/athlete/artist with the pride and fragile ego that often accompanies said personality (like "Chava" Jimenez). Maybe in daily dealings he was a total drag and arsehole (as many talented folks may be) but that does not diminish my enjoyment of watching him race nor does it tarnish his achievements. He was doing nothing differently than any other top racer at that time in terms of his "program" or "preperation" but he was hung out to dry and made the proverbial "example of". My opinion? Very, very bad timing: He was caught with his hand in the cookie jar during one of the seemingly cyclical waves of anti-doping purges. I still dig the guy. Period...
I also am a Pantani junkie. Despite all his faults, he was simply a victim of the system like everyone else, pushed by the sponsors to win at whatever cost. His unmatched accelerations and the ability to put the hammer down and keep it there while everyone melted off his rear wheel was a joy to watch. My only regret is not getting to see him ride past me, and to feel myself a part of the tifosi as I too screamed in his ear.
Yeah, Rendell's book says it all. He was the best despite tons of bad luck with the truck.
Was he cheating? For sure. So was everyone else.
Not only was he the dominant climber of his short age-but he did it with panache in every way. When I am on the trainer, I choose a race video with him in it first. Even if he didn't win, everyone knew where he was.
He is climbing in heaven today and the peleton is far behind.
Doped - whatever, he seemed to be able to get so far into the pain box that he came out the other side and truly relished it. It was a beautiful thing to watch. Il Pirata is my climbing mantra. I wish I could climb like that just once.
Still my favorite rider ever. Looking at the list of climbers who later committed suicide it almost concerns me that I feel such an affinity but he was, and remains, such a joy to watch on a climb.
I will always wonder what could have been in 1999 which was shaping up to be even better than 1998 for him. In 2000 riding undertrained and on even more coke than EPO he could still pull out some great rides.
If anyone has a small version of the blue jersey like on the Alpe let me know. A long sleeve 1998 vintage is missing in my collection too.
A forum community dedicated to Road Bike owners and enthusiasts. Come join the discussion about bike parts, components, deals, performance, modifications, classifieds, troubleshooting, maintenance, and more!