It’s a sad read at times but Matt Rendell’s “The Death of Pantani” is a powerful biography of Marco Pantani. If you’re new to cycling, Pantani was one of the most exciting riders in the 1990s, a mountain climber who appeared to marry art, emotion and sport. He died aged 34. Only the biography reveals he was racing chock-full of EPO and suffering inside.
Perhaps the most tragic element of Pantani’s life was the behaviour of those around him. If many people have mental troubles, most are lucky to have friends and family and ultimately healthcare. But as a celebrity, Pantani was an industry. Each time he had a problem, like clinical depression or cocaine addiction, the aim of some in his entourage was not to fix the underlying problems, but simply to get him back on the bike and the cash flowing. The goose had to keep laying golden eggs.
Now it seems that even after his death some cannot but help exploit his name. Over on the Italian Cycling Journal, I read a certain Franco Corsini was going to put Marco Pantani’s winning bike from the Tour de France up for auction. In 1998 Pantani broke away on the Galibier and soloed up to Les Deux Alpes to claim the yellow jersey and ultimately win the race. I can remember where I was when this happened. Apparently Bianchi even issued a certificate of authenticity.
Only the Pantani family have come forward to point out discrepancies. They show for example that Corsini’s bike has carbon fibre Ergopower levers, but Pantani rode the 1998 Tour with alloy levers, and there are other differences, click on the images above to compare.
Corsini says the auction is for charity so this is a pleasant step away from personal gain but at the same time, it is yet another grab of Pantani’s legend, to turn an assembly of steel and aluminium into gold. Local newspaper Romagna Noi says the bikes may well be gifts from Pantani to Corsini, but simply that if he rode them, it was not during the key points of Pantani’s career.
It seems the money raised won’t hit Corsini’s target of €250,000 but if the auction goes ahead it would be fitting if it goes to a good cause.