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Warts & All Account of a Legend's Demise
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.