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on 16 November 2005
Where one can read Lance Armstrong's vivid and heroic account of his battle against cancer to win his life, future, and thus the Tour de France, this equally rivetting story takes the cycling fan to even darker places. Marco Pantani was a true legend of the peleton, like Armstrong, transcending sport itself to reach out to the ordinary man on the street who might not be aware of cycling other than three weeks in July. Whereas his demise was greeted with sangfroid amongst the peleton and the press, to the legions of cycling fans around the world, it was a truly black day, as one of the most gifted cyclists of his, or any other generation was found dead of a drug overdose. Now, I buy every a lot of cyling titles, but what enthused me about this one, was that it wasn't written by some journalist with an 'angle', or an axe to grind, or even a publishing contract to honour - how many of those to we get every year? This, on the other hand, is a very personal account by Pantani's closest friend and adviser, who after talking it over with Pantani's parents, decided to produce this warts and all story. You don't get any better than that, and it really does read as if Manuela Ronchi lived this horrific ordeal day by day with the great man - only unlike Armstrong, he was figting a losing battle.
A shame they had such a public falling out, I think they might have been friends away from cycling if the press hadn't fuelled the rivalry. Who knows? But read the book, now it's been translated from the Italian best-seller, it's well worth it.
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on 7 January 2009
As a fan of professional cycling, I like many have enjoyed the highs and the often inevitable disappointments of many "successes" in the last few years. I think only a fool would believe anyone could win the tour between 1990 and 2005 without the help of blood boosting methods such as EPO. That said, the likes of Pantani and Armstrong have provided entertainment which, at the time, is great. It's only later when reality hits that you see it was a fraud but it's the incessant denials that stick in the throat. Pantani did it with Italian madness, our Texan friend is just a money grabbing ego maniac! I was sceptical about reading this book expecting it to be a gushing tribute to the pirate from his chum and manager. I hjafd previously read Rendell's book and as I say, I am no fan of cheats.

The sad reality is that during the period I mention, pretty much everyone was cheating as, ironically, Verbruggen's UCI allowed (almost encouraged) it! Most refreshing in this sad sad tale is that Ronchi makes reference to what are (in my view) two confessions of sorts by Pantani that he did take short cuts, along with everyone else, in order to achieve his successes.

Obviosuly one mixed up fella but that's what fame on that scale can do to a fragile mind. His (what in my view are) confessions however have raised his stock in my view from outright dirty cheat to sad victim of a joke sport troubled to the end by his misdemeanour.

There are some overly gushing bits in the book but overall it's not too bad and I would certainly recommend anyone intersted in pro cycling to give it a whirl. A few other current names get droppped with reference to hematocrits of 49.8!! Pro cycling really is an utter utter shambles!
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on 27 May 2006
As someone who has unsuccessfully tried to pull back a work colleague from alcoholism and its fatal consequences, I have great sympathy with Manuela Ronchi and her harrowing tale. However, from a cycling perspective it makes sad reading. All the '90's pro's were using EPO and Pantani was unlucky enough (like the Festina team) to get caught. His lack of contrition led the authorities to hound him, and his profligate use of cocaine to blot out the truth could only end one way. If you want to read about Marco Pantani, the biography by John Wilcockson (published by Velo News) makes a much better choice.
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on 3 February 2007
The first part of the book I wanted to read and read and read.

The rest of the book concentrated on his depression and other than the odd sentance or two did not mention his wins/ highlights over the last few years. For some parts of it I could not read more than a few pages at a time before feeling helpless and depressed myself.

I am new to Pantani and the world of cycling and whilst the book has prompted me to want to understand more and am horrified at the effects of cocaine, I would like to have seen more about the rest of his life, but, perhaps that was not the objective of the book and is maybe in another book.

I do however now want to understand more and want to hear more about his side of the story and am prompted to read other books about it.
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on 13 February 2006
A tragic story told from the person that probably knew him best. Heartfelt and honest, in places it is predicatably sad but you can't help but read on... the only thing that never gets answered is "why?" - but then maybe there is no answer to this...
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on 4 January 2017
This is the second book I've read on Pantani and although I'm a fan I felt this particular book tarnished his image unintentionally. I can appreciate that the writer was his manager and its her job to show Pantani in the best light, considering his untimely death, but the constant side stepping of the drugs issue undermines the integrity of the book. What it does show however is the numerous ways that sponsors, team managers, race directors and drug agencies call the shots and chose the champions. There is no doubt in my mind that Pantani was the victim of these forces that conspired to keep him out of the sport at a crucial time in its existence. Yes I think he took EPO and yes I think he could have played his cards better but the sport was entering a new era of advertising and money, which trumped all in its wake. He was a great rider and a gentle passionate soul but this left him ill prepared for a life in the spotlight. I think if the author had addressed the elephant in the room and reported what she knew about the drugs and how it affected Pantani, we would have a better understanding of the rider. Pantani is still one of the greats in my book, but this biography spends too much time on his personality and faults and not enough on the problems of trying to perform in an era of unprecedented drugs use. I don't think his ban led to his death, I think it was his relationship with his girlfriend that eventually did that. But pro cycling did make him a "user" and then discarded him when it no longer needed him. This in turn prevented us from seeing him perform at his most daring, passionate best, which is a real shame.
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on 15 April 2006
As a cycling fan, I found parts of this books interesting, but other parts frustrating. The author was obviously close to Pantani, and wrote engagingly with passion and verve about him. However, from what she wrote, the most important parts of half of the title of the book (the Death of Marco Pantani) she was excluded from. She was unable to give an insight into the drug addled mind that lead to his death. The secret life of this athlete who struggle agaist cocaine addiction remains as secret to me as he kept it from the author. However, as Pantani's manager, the author knew all about his business dealings. I wish she'd written two biographies, a sporting one and a business one, because the intricacies of Marco Pantani's business dealings were dull, dull, dull.
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on 16 March 2009
This item arrived to me extremely quickly - many thanks. It was as described and in good condition. Very happy with the service provided.
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on 13 February 2013
A very sad story written by a person who tried their best to help someone who didn't seem to want it. To win the Tour and the Giro in the same year was a tremendous achievement but subsequent events showed a flawed personality. A very enjoyable read about a racer I watched through good times and bad.
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on 15 September 2016
What an incredible book! Well written and a very intimate story. I am a huge Pantani fan but even if you're not, a brilliant read that will spark a passion for cycling!!
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