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Marco Pantani: The Legend of a Tragic Champion Paperback – February 10, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Wilcockson has been writing about cycling for 30 years


GRAHAM WATSON, renowned for his stunning views of competitive cycling, is the sport's premier photographer. He has produced several volumes of his gorgeous photographs, including 20 Years of Cycling Photography.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Velo Press (February 10, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1931382654
  • ISBN-13: 978-1931382656
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #893,006 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Eric J. Lyman on March 28, 2006
It's always sad when something has a wonderful opportunity to be great but settles for being merely average. That was never the way of Italian cycling icon Marco Pantani, but it is, sadly, the only way to look at Marco Pantani: the Legend of a Tragic Champion.

Pantani deserved better. He was obviously -- and fatally -- flawed, but through his flamboyant personality, dramatic cycling moves, and unmistakable appearance he also brought much-needed color to a sport increasingly dominated by single-minded robot-like riders. He died a dramatic, tragic, and pitiful death, and the world of sport was left poorer for it.

Pantani's persona is just one of the reasons this volume should have been much, much better than it is.

Another equally important reason is that editor John Wilcockson assembled a virtual Dream Team of cycling writers for the project, from venerable Italian journalist Pier Bergonzi, the chief writer with the pink-paged La Gazetta dello Sport, to his insightful friendly rival Sergio Neri at BiciSport. Add France's Guillaume Prabois, and the staff of the U.S.-based VeloNews. Even Graham Watson, the best-known photographer in the business, contributed some of his signature images.

These guys pulled out all the stops, tracking down the Ukrainian maid who cleaned Pantani's room in the hotel where he died of a drug overdose (he kept he very warm, she said) and the tourist who was the last person to see Pantani alive (he said Pantani told him, in a local dialect, "I don't know if there will be another day"). Swiss journalist Michel Beuret even manages a thoughtful interview with Christina Jonsson, Pantani's former girlfriend, who avoided the press in the wake of the cyclist's death.

But I think Mr.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Keith Manning on November 5, 2006
One does not expect great literature in a sports biography and this book meets those expectations. However, it does succeed in making you feel like you do get to know Pantani - and it does give a lot of facts that help you to piece together the story and, probably, what was behind it.

Anyone who still thinks that "certain riders" didn't take performance-enhancing substances should read this book (especially the interview with his ex-girlfriend).

Anyone who wants more insight into the TDF should read this book.

Anyone who knows even a little about Pantani and wants to understand his tragic story should read this book.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By T Newman on October 19, 2005
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The tragic death of Marco Pantani underlined the darker side of cycling (and any other professional sport), where some athletes feel compelled to cheat in order to further their professional careers. When Pantani was caught cheating in the Giro de Italia, two days from a win, he fell into a deep depression that only cocaine could alleviate. This book is a very interesting collection of journalists' articles on the life and tragic death of one of the world's top riders. Beginning with Pantani's childhood, chapters cover Pantani's life with plenty of descriptions of his most successful races. Although best suited for hard-core cycling fans, there is something for everyone, including a poignant interview with Pantani's ex-girlfriend Christina Jonsson, who confirms Pantani's use of illegal substances both during racing and after in the form of cocaine. The book also reveals a little of the driven personality that seems to lie behind all great road racers. Perhaps one of the most revealing parts of the book is the final chapter which lists Pantani's racing victories. 1998 stands out as the year of Il Pirata, in which Pantani won both the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France. Reviewing 1998, it seems to me that either Pantani never came close to realizing his true potential - or - he took massive quantities of performance-boosters in order to apparently maintain a 6 month phsyiological peak. (Maintaining winning form for an entire racing season just doesn't happen naturally, folks!) Be aware that since this is a collection of stories by numerous authors, the text often repeats itself in descriptions of races and events, making for some confusion as to which race Marco won and in which race he crashed, etc. I think that editor John Wilcoxen could have done a better job of synchronizing each chapter. Its a great read and great background on one of Italy's finest riders. A great gift for your cycling enthusiast!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By EJS on July 16, 2005
In reality, this book is actually more a collection of articles and stories, collated and edited by Wilcockson. At only 180 pages, one might think it's rather thin on the ground, yet this book contains a great detail of interesting information and anecdotes about the short and tragic life of a haunted champion.

This is a superb introduction to both Pantani's professional career, and to cycling writing in general, but if you're after a warts and all life story, a la Lance Armstrong books, best look elsewhere. Really, the only detailed part of this work that delves into Pantani's personal life is the account of his lonely death in a hotel room in Rimini on Valentine's Day.

In short, well worth a look.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By T. Sernel on January 12, 2008
This is an excelent chronicle of one of history's greatest climbers. Because it presents both sides of the story, this book is worth a read. Contains scientific data as well as multitudes of tabloid-ish material. However, because it does, it tells the whole story. Marco Pantani, while an outstanding athlete, was the Britney Spears of Italian Cycling. This book captures that scene well!
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