Monday’s mail bag: Pantani’s passing

Put yourself in his shoesVeloNews,I'm in shock. I'm sad and depressed, but I am not surprised.In the span of a few short years, we have witnessed the triumphant arrival,the awesome creation and the tragic destruction of one of our sport's greatones. He was an historical figure, to be sure. A man so powerful,so outspoken, so passionate, so dedicated, is a rare thing to see.With all his faults (and who is perfect?) he was still larger than life.Marco Pantani infused the sport with incredible passion. He was asensitive man, giving to others - including his competitors - and dedicatedto the

Put yourself in his shoes
VeloNews,
I’m in shock. I’m sad and depressed, but I am not surprised.In the span of a few short years, we have witnessed the triumphant arrival,the awesome creation and the tragic destruction of one of our sport’s greatones. He was an historical figure, to be sure. A man so powerful,so outspoken, so passionate, so dedicated, is a rare thing to see.With all his faults (and who is perfect?) he was still larger than life.Marco Pantani infused the sport with incredible passion. He was asensitive man, giving to others – including his competitors – and dedicatedto the underdog. I for one will not be surprised if the coroner willfind his death to be a suicide. After all, he is a man who wouldtake matters in his own hands. He had suffered enough.I agree with Eddy Merckx in that the Italian justice system help thedestruction of the man. I was there in Italy when the spectacle happened.It was a political circus, and there was no reason to treat this hero likethey did. It was the last drop. How many times did he haveto come back from broken bones, broken egos, broken spirits? Cyclingis hard enough. To be dragged in front of one’s own like acommon criminal, without irrefutable proof, just 36 hours from winningthe national tour, after all the pain and suffering that competing in atour entails, well, you put yourself in his shoes and tell me if you wouldhave still had the mental stamina and temperament to keep at it like hedid. That Giro of ’99 stopped his momentum.That and the abuse he took from the media (VeloNews included!)certainly took its toll.I, for one, will miss him, even if in the last years he was really justkidding himself, his time had passed. It is a sad day indeed.
Rafael A Torrens III
Miami, FloridaNot Superman, just a man
Dear editor,
It is time to reflect on the tragic career of a pure climber with afragile spirit.Marco Pantani rode like a Jack Russell Terrier. Never shying from thefight on the toughest mountains in the world. Like us all, he had his problemsthat seemed to dog him both on and off the bike.I will not remember a depressed and harassed man who may have takensome short-cuts to success but a bright, shining, pure climber who dancedupon the pedals when the road tilted up.Maybe we can now understand that all people make mistakes and that theirlives at the bottom need some humanity, especially when super-human effortsbecome status quo.
Forza Marco,
Grant Lamont
Whistler, British Columbia, CanadaA sick result of a sick system
Editors,
Tragic.
The sport of professional cycling is in the gutter. Drug use,rehab, the realization that you cannot perform without the drug, the realizationthat what you have accomplished is a lie…Depression. Jimenez, Pantani…whowill be next?This is ugly stuff. This is life in the true gutter. Icannot believe that this is individual poor choice, as cycling’s governingbodies would want the world to believe. These are young boys involvedin a sick system of passively tolerated drug use. Drugs whose side-effectscan lead to induced Depression as well as other physical and behavioralabnormalities. On the same day another 20-year-old Belgian cyclist diesof heart failure. This saddens and angers me.I love cycling. At some point the beauty of cycling will be overshadowedby this intolerable ugliness. I was in Dublin for the start of the’98 Tour, a race that turned into Pantani’s most brilliant moment.IS ANYBODY ELSE AS ANGRY AS I AM?
Charlie Stevenson
Clarksville, Indiana.
What were they saying when he was alive?
Editors,
Someone dies and we all have only the best to say about them- about a month or so ago a lot of people had a lot of negative thingsto say about Marco Pantani. While I don’t think this is the time to focuson the negative.Those who had bad comments then should hold their tongue now. All ofus as people have good and bad qualities. As a racer Marco Pantani showedcourage and class.
Michael Ala
Edgewater, New JerseyA shattered hero
Editors,
I’m not ashamed to admit I cried when I read about the death of MarcoPantani. I can’t help but feel very bitter about what has happened to himsince the ’99 Giro. No other cyclist has been persecuted to the extentthat Marco was – all in the absence of any concrete evidence against him.I hope all who saw fit to destroy him are satisfied now.

Marco was the reason I took up cycling. I loved him and will neverforget him.
Richard Jenkins
Swansea, United KingdomHeroes are still human
VeloNews,
Although Marco Pantani was both a champion and contributor to the professionalsport of cycling, we cannot forget that he was like every one else, human,struggling with his own personal demons.
Scott Nass
Rahway, New JerseyOnly a beautiful memory
Editors,
There really was nothing quite as beautiful as Il Pirata takingoff up a mountain. He could sustain a great climb with great beauty theway no other could.
Tim Williamson
Houston, TexasThank you, Marco
Dear Marco,
Thank you!
Thank you for Giro/Tour double. Thank you for your tenacity up theAlpe. Thank you for always being you.. and screw anyone who didn’tlike you.You see, in 1998 I was riding, but I knew nothing at all about roadracing. So to learn I picked up a tape at a bike show, and boy did I learn.I learned how the sprinter’s rule the first week of a major tour, I learnedhow crucial a time trial is in a tour, and then I saw the mountain stages.I watched that Giro tape time after time. I fell in love with road racing.That was the ’98 Giro. Then I had to have the Tour tape.Marco, I saw you take the yellow from Jan. Courage, determination, andthe willingness to suffer, suffer, suffer. To climb toward heaven on legsof steel. I learned a lot from you Marco and now I weep at your death.Marco, you were treated badly, and we all lose because of it. I canonly hope in your last hours that somehow you knew there were those thatloved you, that longed to see you fly up again on legs of steel, hope,courage, determination.So now Marco, fly, fly to heaven,
I will miss you,
With love.
Brian Buchanan
Peru, Illinois.


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