The cycling Pirate: 15 years without Marco Pantani

Marco Pantani (Cesena, January 13, 1970 - Rimini, 14 February 2004) was an Italian cyclist on the road, with features  pure climber . Professional from 1992 to 2003, considered among the strongest climbers, gained around 46 wins in his career with the best results in stage races, winning a Tour of Italy, Tour de France and the bronze medal at the world online 1995.Purtroppo the 14 February 2004 , the Romagnolo climber was found dead in a residence in Rimini.

He was 34 and despite investigations and trials, yet there are no clear trends that have led to one of the most beloved and talented cyclists of all time.

By now, 15 years have passed since the death of Marco Pantani , whose body was found dead in a room of the residence "Le Rose" in Rimini. A death that according to the autopsy is due to an overdose of cocaine. The investigations led to a Supreme Court verdict that in 2017 it established as Pantani was not killed but have voluntarily ingested cocaine. The climber's family has never accepted this verdict, asking repeatedly reopen the case. The mother of Pirate  Mrs. Tonina, has always maintained that his son was murdered by simulating an overdose, probably to keep quiet about some dirty secretPerhaps linked to doping in cycling and his disqualification at the world of betting fraud or the use of drugs, of which he was aware.

The rise of the Pirate

Growing up in the streets of Romagna, as a boy shows exceptional talent on two wheels . In 1992 he won the Giro d'Italian amateurs, but its explosion as a professional cyclist came at the 1994 Tour of Italy, with stage wins in Merano and dell'Aprica. While in full preparation for the Tour of Italy in 1995, an accident with a car forced him to focus on the Tour de France. In the French race he was soon, partly because of knee conditions, to have a big delay from the peak of the race. Returning won two stages at the Tour, including a memorable Alpe d'Huez. He arrives on the podium at the World Cup in Colombia in the fall.

In 1997 he moved to the new Mercatone Uno team sponsored by Romano Cenni and built around the Romagna to point to the great revolutions. But bad luck was still around the corner: the Tour of Italy, the Pirate  suffered another accident, in an interlocutory stage of the race during the descent of the Chiunzi pass, due to a cat that had crossed the road to the passage of group. He managed to finish the stage thanks to teammates. During the visit to the hospital, he found to have suffered the tear in the muscle fibers in his left thigh. This time, quickly recovered and returned to riding in the Tour that year, where he fought long for the yellow jersey and bringing two more stage wins.

The 1999 - 2003 years of decline

In 1999, Pantani dominates the Tour of Italy , runs for victory for the second year in a row. On June 5, however, in Madonna di Campiglio, a medical check revealed a high hematocrit rate. Pantani is suspended and excluded from the race. The story will have numerous interpretations over the years, to the conspiracy theory that would be the Camorra to distort the analysis for a round of illegal betting. The pirate does not actually recovers from this episode and enters a tunnel of depression and drug addiction.

Now more and more prostrate in morals, participated in the Tour of Italy in 2001 but retired before the 19th stage. At the  Tour de France  instead his team was not invited. He began to move away from the image of a professional rider and among suspects and processes of sports justice, where he was convicted and later acquitted. Pantani was unable to find the serenity needed to get back to racing. Since then his career can be summed up in a few flashes of absolute magnitude in the middle of the dark. In 2000 he makes an incredible sull'Izoard stage of the Giro, Garzelli escorting the captain to victory. And at that year's Tour it creates an epic battle with Lance Armstrong on the Mont Ventoux. In subsequent years, Marco fought with his ghosts, until the tragic end of 2004.