Gallery: Marco Pantani, troubled star

As the 2024 Tour de France crosses paths with the Italian's legacy, let's take a look back at his storied career.

Escape Collective
by Escape Collective 28.06.2024 Photography by
Cor Vos
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If Tadej Pogačar is able to win the 2024 Tour de France, he’ll have achieved a feat no male rider has managed for 26 years: win the Giro d’Italia and Tour in one calendar year. The man who last did the Giro-Tour double was the Italian Marco Pantani, often regarded as one of the best climbers the sport has ever seen.

This year’s Tour de France shares another link with Pantani. Following the race’s Grand Depart in Florence, Italy, stage 1 concludes in the city of Rimini. It was in Rimini that Pantani lost his life in February 2004 as a result of a cocaine overdose. Stage 2 of the Tour starts close to Pantani’s hometown of Cesena.

You’ll hear plenty about Pantani in the opening days of this year’s Tour, and indeed toward the end if Pogačar looks set to complete his historic double. What better time to take a dive into the Cor Vos photo archives and recognise the rider and entertainer that Pantani was?

Of course, it should be acknowledged that Pantani’s racing career and indeed his legacy were tarnished by doping, and many people believe that shining a light on riders like Pantani does a disservice to the sport (and those who raced clean at the time). A counterpoint: it’s still possible to appreciate the performances of the sport’s biggest stars and the way they animated the sport while acknowledging they were flawed as athletes and humans.

That’s not to condone or support doping in anyway; more an acknowledgement that Pantani and his ilk were racing at a complicated time for the sport, with realities far different to the present day. There’s no doubt Pantani was a troubled individual, but equally, his impact on bike racing shouldn’t be denied.

Let’s dive in.

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