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   unique climbing style consisted of staying on the drops
   Bianchi built him a special bike with a very high head-tube to accommodate a higher handlebar position.
   dubbed 'Il Pirata' (the pirate) due to bald head, goatee beard, bandana and earrings - by adoring Italian "tifosi" (fans)
   also "Elefantino" - the little elephant - in reference to his prominent ears.


   1992: Makes professional debut
  1. - Tour de France debut, finishing 3rd overall
  2. - beats the great Miguel Indurain in the moutains on the TDF and Giro, Bronze in World Championships
  3. - comes back from injury to win two stages of the Tour de France
  4. - won the Tour de France (first Italian to win the Tour de France in 33 years) and the Giro d'Italia (very few ever compete in both,even fewer have won them in the same year)


   1967: Briton's Tommy Simpson collapses and dies on Mont Ventoux during the Tour de France. A post mortem finds levels of amphetamine in his blood.
  1. Festina team masseur Willy Voet is stopped by police and his car found laden with performance-enhancing drugs at the start of the Tour de France. Subsequent raids on 20 teams find endemic doping, with stimulants, anabolic steroids as well as used syringes. Three teams are expelled in what becomes known as the "Tour de Farce". Strike The riders initially refused to ride Stage 12 because they claimed that there was too much emphasis on drugs and not enough on the racing. They appointed Laurent Jalabert as their spokesperson and he told the Tour radio service that: "We are fed up with being treated like cattle. So we are going to behave like cattle. The sport is no longer interesting to anyone. We won't cycle and that's the end of it." Pantani He told the press that: "It is always difficult to know the truth. But solidarity in this case is useless because justice must be respected. Maybe the facts revealed in this doping scandal are not superficial. Maybe they reveal something deep within cycling and if some riders have committed offences, they must pay.
  2. - ejected from the Giro after failing a test for haematocrit - an indicator, though not proof, - court eventually threw out that case against him, more doping accusations followed. battled with Lance Armstrong in the TDF
  3. - fined and banned for six months for 'sporting fraud', given suspended jail sentence
  4. Syringe of insulin found in Pantani's room during Giro excluded from the Tour (exclusions that Pantani apparently referred to in notes found in his hotel room after his death)
  5. - banned for 8 months but wins appeal
  6. raced in the Giro, finishing 14th year long battle for his reputation in court results in an acquittal for sporting fraud June - books into clinic for depression and drug use.


   At 9:30 pm on 14 February 2004, former Tour de France winner Marco Pantani was found dead in Rimini. It emerged that he had been addicted to cocaine since Autumn 1999, weeks after being expelled from the Tour of Italy for blood doping. Conspiracy theories abounded - that he was injected in his sleep by a business rival, that the Olympic Committee had framed him, that Italian Industrialists had engineered his downfall, etc etc.
   "At this point we can exclude violence" - Dr Giuseppe Fortuni after Pantani's autopsy
   Italian sports minister Mario Pescante said Pantani was "a victim of modern sports". "He was investigated by at least seven state prosecutors. To me, that seems - frankly - too many.
   rendell in the autobiography:
      Like George Best, Diego Maradona, Alex "Hurricane" Higgins, and so on, he was prodigiously gifted; like them, he couldn't handle success and its aftermath
   Giro organisers have announced that a mountain stage will be held in Pantani's name in each future edition of the race.


   Miguel Indurain, Claudio Chiappucci, Jan Ullrich, Lance Armstrong, Laurent Jalabert, Richard Virenque, Mario Cipollini, Alex Zulle, Tom Steels, Johan Museeuw
   still racing now: Erik Zabel, Robbie McEwenNew Page, Stuart O'Grady, Michael Boogerd 


      "But Pantani was a genius... It wouldn't be fair to summarise his life with issues of doping and depression."
      "What I liked about him was his explosive power in the mountains - he knew how to attack, but also had the ability to sustain his form,"
      "I also admired his reserved character, his way of behaving during the race - it was something that made him different to the rest." 
   Mario Cipollini
      "I, like everybody else who loves cycling, welcome Marco with open arms," (2003)
   Alberto Tomba (Italian ski champion)
      For champions it is too easy to go from being loved and exalted to being hated. Pantani found himself alone at the precise moment that he was in the most need
   Robert Millar, fourth in the 1984 Tour de France and King of the Mountains, writes:
      The riders reckon that a good Tour takes one year off your life, and when you finish in a bad state, they reckon three years. I've ridden 11 Tours, finished or got close to the end of four in a bad state, so you work it out... You can't describe to a normal person how tired you feel: how can you describe feeling so tired that you can't sleep? ... You can't divide the mental and physical suffering: you tend to let go mentally before you crack physically, with the constant noise all day as you're riding in the bunch -- people yelling at you, the cars, the helicopters.
      I can understand guys being tempted to use drugs in the Tour. Given the real-life situation of drug use, I'd say it was no worse than in the real world where 1 million ecstasy tablets are sold every weekend. Why should sport be different from real life? I don't think it's an isolated cycling thing, people just expect sport to be cleaner than real life.
   Note his name on the top tube: "Pirata" He seems to like that name more than "Elefantino." Pantani was in a windtunnel this winter to test and improve his position on his new time trial bike. The biggest aerodynamic problem must have been his ears!

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