Photo from Brian Townsley on Flickr.
This years Giro d’Italia starts in Northern Ireland on Friday. After 3 days on the Emerald Isle the race will return to Italy where RCS have organised a series of tributes to the nations most popular winner of recent times, Marco Pantani.
Some form of memorial is well in order as 2014 marks the 10 year anniversary of his death.The fact that Pantani’s style of riding is sorely missed in today’s peleton, with its obsession of power meters and marginal gains, and the tragic circumstances of his passing, make the inclusion of Monte Carpegna on stage 8 seem fitting. This was Pantani’s favorite training climb and while he went through much of life with a tortured mind he was able to forget his troubles on these roads and it was one of the few places where he felt free.
However what about the summit finishes on stages 14 and 15? Oropa and Montecampione were added to the route to celebrate two of Pantani’s famous wins in the Giro. Fantastic to witness at the time, these victories are now seen through more suspicious eyes. Particularly his victory up Oropa in the 1999 Giro. After his chain came off at the foot of the climb he managed an epic fightback to the leaders before denying Laurent Jalabert the stage victory. Days later he was kicked off the race for returning a high hematocrit value after a blood test the morning after another mountain victory at Madonna di Campiglio.
While ‘Il Pirata’ was ultimately failed by the people people inside an outside his sport which he should have been able to rely on cycling wont be able to move on until the different organisations who run the sport are more honest when addressing the past and fans wont be able to pay proper respect to their heroes.