The Death of Marco Pantani: A Biography Paperback – 6 Jun 2007
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[Rendell's] not inconsiderable acheivement is to convey the sordid reality of the Tour while simultaneously adding to one's yearning for its lost idealism (Matthew Syed Times)
Intimate biography of the charismatic Tour de France winner and the world that caused his downfallSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
The book takes us from Marco Pantani's youth right up to his death, and beyond.
Unlike one of the previous critics, I do not consider the volume to be a hatchet job. All allegations are examined in detail, and medical concepts are explained very clearly - I know more about blood chemistry than I'll never need!
The evidence is overwhelming. Marco Pantani was doped, and probably from the beginning of his career. The evidence is the blood samples. The modes of defence are shown to make no medical sense, and the asides are also quite damning (why would cyclists want to set up bikes in their hotel room, during a Tour? it only makes any sense if their blood is thick and they need to get the heart pumping during the night. And it is thick because they take r-EPO).
I felt the book is very fair. It is certainly well researched and thorough. No hatchet job, this.
I wondered, then, if Rendell might take the easy option and circumvent the entire doping issue. I was shocked, and suspect that the author was too, by the conclusion of this excellent, deeply insightful biography: Pantani's entire professional career was fraudulent. All of his victories were achieved through massive doses of r-EPO and probably growth hormone. His haematocrit levels fluctuated wildly over the course of a season from what would seem to be a natural level of 43% (off-season) to 58% and higher when competing.
However, Rendell doesn't stop with Pantani - there is a strong suggestion of state-sponsored doping within Italy, covered-up at the highest levels. Other athletes are also named as being part of a huge doping network, including Roche, Chiapucci and Cipo. While I felt sure most of the champions of the 90s and beyond must have used EPO, I never thought I would see a writer express this so candidly and, more importantly, provide substantial proof that this was the case.
Rendell has not taken the easy option. This is a definitive account of Pantani's life and the deepest analysis yet of EPO doping within the peloton.
Meticulously researched, beautifully written, detailed, moving and horrifying by turns, this book is both a grisly account of the disintegration of a personality, and the story of one of the greatest cycling talents ever. Marco Pantani, Il Pirata as he is known from the piratical headscarf he sometimes wore, was a doper, a cheater and an addict - and one of the most amazing cycling mountain-climbers of all time; a mass of contradictions who still provokes awe and deprecation in equal amounts. Matt Rendell brings out the many sides of this complex personality in his disturbing and sometimes cold-bloodedly factual account.
If anyone should dispute the figures Matt quotes, by the way, there's one small but telling piece of evidence of their authenticity: namely the writer's puzzlement at the .wdb suffix to the filenames of the doping records. Apparently this unfamiliar format made them very difficult to recover! However any old-skool PC user will recognise this as the suffix of an antiquated MS Works Database format, for the simple-minded cut-down database which was supplied with the (surprisingly useful IMO :) ) MS Works suite for pre Win '98 versions of Windows. That Matt was genuinely puzzled by this says volumes for his integrity if you think about it. You couldn't make it up!
But seriously: this is a biography of Il Pirata, from his earliest involvement in cycling to his ignominious death from cocaine overdose in Hotel Residence le Rose, Rimini, in 2004. But the book's title is The *Death* of Marco Pantani; not 'The Life'. If you read this book, you will understand why; Marco, as Matt says, 'had been dying a long time'. This book is immensely sad; it is also a must read for any cycling fan. Highest possible recommendation.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Birthday present well received by recipient, who us a cycling nutPublished 5 months ago by craftylady
This book started well, but was a bit slow in the middle, so much so that I found myself skimming some sections or reading something else. Read morePublished 7 months ago by J. Evans
For those reviewers complaining that the book is depressing or that it isn't solely about cycling, the clue is in the title my friends. Read morePublished 7 months ago by mr_madiba
Pantani was one of my heroes when growing up and also one of the villans later on when I realised he wasn't really as good as he was made out to be through epo, test,blood bags and... Read morePublished 8 months ago by dave price
disappointing read at times it just goes on and on about blood values and analysis. not enough about the cycling . avoid . Read morePublished 10 months ago by mr m