The Accidental Death of a Cyclist – Trailer

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The first Italian since Fausto Coppi to win the Giro-Tour double, Marco Pantani was arguably the greatest climber the sport has ever seen. His flamboyant uphill attacks, riding in the drops, were matched with breakneck descents. Sporting a bandana, goatee and earring, Il Pirata, on his alloy Bianchi, said: “It takes courage and willpower to ride the way I ride.”

But in 1999, having taken four high mountain stages at that year’s Giro, Pantani was subjected to a random dope test. Doctors judged his haematocrit to read 52%, indicating use of the blood-booster EPO. His subsequent ban and failure to claim his second Giro proved a major blow.

After he returned in 2000 and famously battled with Lance Armstrong on Mont Ventoux, his career completely unraveled. On Valentine’s Day 2004, Marco Pantani was found dead in a hotel room in Rimini, just a short journey from his birthplace in Cesena. Tens of thousands turned up to his funeral.

Unfortunately, the tragic nature of Pantani’s career has come to represent the paradox of the sport in the 1990s. But people adored him because he truly expressed himself when he raced. In his autobiography, Pantani wrote: “My language is the bike.”

James Erskine’s The Accidental Death of a Cyclist is now available from

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Marco Pantani

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  • Søren Nejmann

    When will we see the tribute jersey or what ever it is? ;-)

  • Søren Nejmann

    When will we see the tribute jersey or what ever it is? ;-) He is one of the greatest climbers ever!

  • Wakatel Lu’um

    Not my quote but I agree with most of it… I was never a Pantini fan and today I must admit I find it very strange that the same people, who usually are feverishly busy hanging every cheat from the nearest tree, blow Kleenex to someone who had his fingers so far down the cookie-jar it eventually became his destiny. No doubt every death is tragic. You are after all not supposed to die from your sport, but supposedly become healthier. So while the cycling world is busy chasing the ghosts of doping, and subsequently bring everyone to justice despite age, its homage to Pantini also shows how hypocritical things can be……!

  • jsmitts
  • Paolo

    Yeah… ” technical evolution “

  • Paolo

    They all were drugs cheaters, and not just in the 90’s…

    • adam wilson

      @Paolo That’s possibly true, but some are celebrated whilst others are vilified. Also Rapha are a major sponsor of Team Sky and this goes against their ethics.

      • Paolo

        Just the sport has been vilified Adam… Pantani, paid the biggest price ’cause he was the number one, it was not ” a random test ” at 99’s giro d’Italia.
        I cannot defend him, unfortunately it seems that doping is part of the sport cycling culture from long time.
        Doping has killed the enthusiasm of a lot of cycling fans, when Froome strike at Mt Ventoux last year the reaction here has been : what if he was the next doped?
        Sad for Froome, sad for the fans, sad for the sport!
        The love for Pantani in Italy is more about to the man’s tragedy i guess.
        Here is a place not to celebrate but to sell jerseys….think about it!
        Have a good day

        • adam wilson

          You’re right of course Paolo and It shows quite clearly the double standards that exist in our sport.
          I’m sure that a Lance Armstrong jersey will not be produced by Rapha although Pantani and a Merckx jerseys has, with the new trade team jersey.
          It was a mixed day for UK fans too when Froome produced such a stunning victory on Ventoux, as there was a lot in the UK press about the possibility of him doping and he had to do a lot of work denying those claims. That would have weighed heavily on him at that time and I’m sure those who worked at Rapha, as a sponsor of Team Sky, were hoping that he was clean too.