By Andrew Hood
New Pantani book, movie in works
Just eight months following Marco Pantani’s tragic death in a hotel room in Rimini, Italy, there’s a flurry of new media projects in Italy. A new book details Pantani’s final days of and there’s even a made-for-TV movie in production in Italy.
Pantani’s former manager, Manula Ronchi, has written a new book that investigates the painful final days for the Italian hero entitled, “A Man on the Run: The True Story of Marco Pantani.”
Written in collaboration with Italian cycling journalist Gianfranco Josti, the book uses Pantani’s extension notes taken in the weeks and months before his death to detail his slide from super-stardom through the doping investigations that overshadowed his sporting exploits following his expulsion from the 1999 Giro d’Italia to the final days before his death on February 14.
“Pantani thought that he was the victim of a conspiracy headed by the president of the Italian Cycling Federation, Giancarlo Ceruti,” Ronchi wrote. “Marco was afraid at night. He thought he was spied on with microphones. He searched for video cameras in the whole house and heard voices on the roof. His obsessions were the anti-doping investigations and his girlfriend.”
A Pantani movie is expected to be ready for Italian households in early 2005. Titled “The Pirate,” the film’s script was written by La Gazzetta dello Sport journalist Pier Bergonzi and ex-pro and TV commentator Davide Cassani.
French peloton on the rise
Despite grumbling that French cycling is in a malaise, the coming season will look good for today’s current crop of pros.
According to a survey by L’Equipe, the number of French riders in the international peloton will grow from 120 to 125 riders. Also, there will be four French teams – Credit Agricole, Cofidis, FDJeux.com and Bouygues Telecom – in the Pro Tour. The other major French teams – Ag2r and RAGT – will still have good chances of racing in such races as the Tour de France.
Basso to race ’cross
Ivan Basso – third overall in the 2004 Tour de France – will be using cyclo-cross to augment his preparation for the 2005 season.
Fresh off his podium finish in the Giro di Lombardia, the Italian star will take a short break from the bike before beginning in earnest to train for the upcoming season. Part of that preparation will include racing some cyclo-cross, with a scheduled appearance at an event scheduled for Dec. 29 in Belgium.
Castellano steps aside at Giro
Longtime Giro d’Italia race director Carmine Castellano will step aside to let a new generation of leaders take over the top Italian race ahead of next year’s Pro Tour.
While negotiations are still under way to include the Giro and other races produced by RCS Sport in next year’s Pro Tour, the race organization announced a major management shakeup that was expected for months.
Castellano, who has been the Giro race director since 1989, will shift into a consulting role while Angelo Zomegnan will step into the top seat.