"If I don't believe in solipsism, who will?" - Al Batt

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Addio Pantani

This is a repost of Aldo Ross's thoughts on the death of Marco Pantani, the Pirate. It is beautiful writing - writing I wish I could do. I can't, so I borrow, I steal. It's fairly long, so I won't post it all. Just follow the link.

(Aldo Ross, from Febraury 16th, 2004)
The news arrives in Italian: "Addio Pirata" (what do they mean?). It takes a few moments to grasp... "Marco Pantani is dead" I stare into the computer screen. The climber of a generation has left us at 34.

He was the answer to an old desire to witness, in my lifetime, a pure climber swift and aggressive enough to win the Tour de France.

He was the rider I’d secretly wished to be, a quiet hero who won in the mountains where each rider is stripped of pretense and illusion as their legs give sworn testimony before the court.

No secret to his tactics; road goes up, Attack and attack and attack. Stand and sprint until the tempo drops, then stand and sprint again.

The beauty of that cadence - the dance of the mountains - piercing the clouds with a cutlass-edged gaze.

A grimacing visage, peering through a river of sweat, soaked to the skin by the fog and mist, vivid colors becoming clearer as he approaches the peak.



Justine Valinotti said...

As I remember, 1998 was the year in which the Tour--and, it seemed, bicycle racing itself--was in danger of being destroyed by doping.

It was also the year before Lance competed in his first Tour after battling cancer--which, of course, was the first Tour he won.

Perhaps Marco Pantani was the rider the sport and its fans needed that year. Yes, he was about as "pure" a climber as anyone could and still win the Tour. But he also had panache, which riders like Indurain, as great as they were, sorely lacked and was sometimes seen as cockiness or arrogance. That, I think, is one reason why he remains a favorite of French cycling fans.

Anyway...It is a beautiful tribute. I, too, wish I could write that well.

Gunnar Berg said...

Marco was a tortured man and the depression eventually took him.