The intimate biography of the charismatic Tour de France winner Marco Pantani and the world that caused his downfall. Now updated.
At 9.30 p.m. on 14 February 2004, former Tour de France winner Marco Pantani was found dead in Rimini. It emerged that he had been addicted to cocaine since autumn 1999, weeks after being expelled from the Tour of Italy for blood doping. Conspiracy theories abounded: that he was injected in his sleep by a business rival; that the Olympic Committee had framed him; that Italian Industrialists had engineered his downfall; etc., etc.
If none of these is entirely true and none of them fully explains Pantani's personal tragedy, none of them is without foundation. This book debunks the myths and makes surprising revelations about Pantani's personal tragedy, but also about the world of cycling. Matt Rendell had access not only to court transcripts but to many of Pantani's friends and the doctors who treated him.
But Pantani's life is about much more than drug addiction. Lance Armstrong described him as 'more of an artist than an athlete - an extravagant figure' Despite being plagued with injuries he won both the Giro and the Tour in 1998, something very few cyclists even attempt. He was an inspirational icon, and the remarkable wins against all odds make gripping reading.
[Rendell's] not inconsiderable acheivement is to convey the sordid reality of the Tour while simultaneously adding to one's yearning for its lost idealism - THE TIMES
Superficially [Pantani] appears to be a familiar type of sporting self-destructor. Like George Best, Diego Maradona, Alex "Hurricane" Higgins, and so on, he was prodigiously gifted; like them, he couldn't handle success and its aftermath. But, if Rendell is right (and the evidence does seem conclusive), unlike them, he was a pharmaceutical creation almost from the beginning. He was "cycling's greatest cheat" . . . It is the pursuit of this revelation that makes the . . . book so readable - NEW STATESMAN
An excellent book about the life and death of il Pirata, the Pirate, as Pantani was known. Rendell has interviewed dozens of those closest to Pantani to paint an intimate and sympathetic - if unsentimental - picture . . . this is also a work of meticulous investigative journalism that shatters whatever doubts anyone could still have about systematic doping in cycling - OBSERVER SPORTS MONTHLY
An account of a journey into the depths of drugs in sport (and drugs in life) becomes a parable of modern sport and celebrity - SUNDAY TIMES
MATT RENDELL survived Hodgkin's Disease and lecturing at British and Latvian universities before entering TV and print journalism. He first visited Colombia in 1998, and his Channel 4 documentary Kings of the Mountains (2000) was described in The Observer as 'a gem, telling us more about the essence of sport in under an hour than a season's worth of Premiership matches'. His first book, Kings of the Mountains: How Colombia's Cycling Heroes Changed their Nation's History (Aurum Press 2002), was described in The Times as 'meticulous, elegant and sensitive'. He has worked on the British terrestrial coverage of the Tour de France since 1997, he has won three National Sporting Club awards, and his book The Death of Marco Pantani was shortlisted for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award. Colombia Es Pasion is his fifth book about Colombia.