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PRESS RELEASE: Marco Pantani: The Legend of a Tragic Champion

Marco Pantani: The Legend of a Tragic ChampionEdited by John Wilcockson For Immediate Release: On February 14, 2004, Italy’s most recent Tour de France champion Marco Pantani died alone in a hotel room at the Adriatic beach town of Rimini. He was only 34 years old. Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong, who lost to Pantani in two stages of the 2000 Tour, said: “I had deep respect for Marco. Cycling has indeed lost a great champion and a great personality.” Some 30,000 fans attended the funeral, to remember a man who they affectionately nicknamed The Pirate for his bandanna-covered shaved

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By Press Release

PRESS RELEASE: Marco Pantani: The Legend of a Tragic Champion

PRESS RELEASE: Marco Pantani: The Legend of a Tragic Champion

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Marco Pantani: The Legend of a Tragic Champion
Edited by John Wilcockson

For Immediate Release:

On February 14, 2004, Italy’s most recent Tour de France champion Marco Pantani died alone in a hotel room at the Adriatic beach town of Rimini. He was only 34 years old. Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong, who lost to Pantani in two stages of the 2000 Tour, said: “I had deep respect for Marco. Cycling has indeed lost a great champion and a great personality.”

Some 30,000 fans attended the funeral, to remember a man who they affectionately nicknamed The Pirate for his bandanna-covered shaved head, hoop earrings and goatee, and of course his swashbuckling style of climbing Europe’s highest peaks faster than his contemporaries. The exact cause of Pantani’s death wasn’t reported until July of 2004, when the state physician wrote: “In the final period of his life, Marco Pantani had grave psychological problems derived from a massive consumption of cocaine. Very large quantities were found in his system—he died from an overdose.”

To mark the anniversary of his death, VeloPress is publishing MARCO PANTANI: The Legend of a Tragic Champion, which chronicles the highs and lows of the Italian cyclist’s charismatic career and ill-fated life. The story flows from the glory of his 1998 season—when he won the Tour and Giro d’Italia in the same year, a feat previously achieved only by giants of the sport like Eddy Merckx and Miguel Induráin—to the downward spiral that followed his exclusion from the 1999 Giro when his blood hematocrit tested above the sport’s legal limit.

Addressing Pantani’s belief that others had conspired to destroy his reputation, Wilcockson writes: “One of the most charismatic, and most misunderstood, characters in the history of cycling had become a victim of his own fame. That high hematocrit reading on June 5, 1999, may not have been a true conspiracy to bring him down, but it was the catalyst that led to his ultimate demise.”

In addition to Wilcockson’s contributions, Pantani’s story is told by European journalists close to the champion, including Pier Bergonzi, chief sportswriter of the Italian sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport. In the only interview granted by Pantani’s longtime Danish girlfriend Christina Jonsson, and published here in English for the first time, Jonsson reveals: “I believe that Marco doped, yes. But in the end that’s nobody’s business. People like to talk about doping and drugs and put the blame on someone else…. As long as he wins, he’s our hero. If he falls, he becomes the black sheep, and we want black sheep.”

1-931382-65-4, $19.95208 pp., 6″ x 9″ trade paperPublication Date: February 14, 2005

To purchase this book online go to : Velogear

MARCO PANTANI: The Legend of a Tragic Champion provides an inside look at one of modern sports’ most fascinating characters in a book illustrated throughout by remarkable color and black-and-white photos by world-renowned photographer Graham Watson.

VeloPress is distributed to the bookseller trade by Publishers Group West. For more information or materials please contact Pete Hammond, 303.440.0601 X 169, phammond@insideinc.com.