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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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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.
This book has helped me to understand both the extent of the drug-taking and the reasons for it. I remember the commentators talking about Marco Pantani when he was at his height. They were giving us clues when they talked about the way his performance varied from day to day. In this book you will learn about Marco from a child and the drive to succeed that he had. You will read about his meteoric rise in the sport and the incredible physical feats of which he was capable.
However on the dark side the whole sorry tale of drugs is exposed. I now know what is taken and why. I know about the attempts, often half-hearted at best, to eradicate or control them. But above all I can now see why outstanding athletes like Pantani, whose abilities I find awe-inspiring, need to take dangerous chemicals to give them just that bit more performance or endurance.
This book has altered my view of the sport. I don't even know whether I will watch it again. What the author can't tell us is his knowledge or suspicion about who is still using drugs. He does hint when describing investigations, but in any case Pantani is the subject of the book. I am sure that like me you will finish this book with a sigh and wish that these incredible men could be released from the need to abuse their bodies and show us what they are genuinely capable of. It would be more than enough.
Flawed genius, fallen hero...pick your cliche for the little man with the big grudge - against life, cycling, his team, himself...just about everything. This book is very well written, extremely detailed, and while Matt Rendell writes in a detached, factual style, this does not make Pantani's sad and inevitable cocaine-fuelled demise any less harrowing. Rendell delivers the facts with authority and great attention to detail. This is not feel-good stuff and can be difficult but so was the Pirate's too short time on this planet.
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