The longer he is gone, the more he is remembered. Former superstar cyclist Marco Pantani (1970-2004) is and wont be forgotten, especially in his home region Emilia-Romagna.
It was impossible not to love and admire a rider like Marco Pantani. His panache and his relentlessness combined with his immense talent as a rider and his fragility as a person created an irresistible attractive force. But the love and admiration blinded us from seeing that ‘Il Pirata’ was riding a lonely road towards self destruction.
On Valentines Day, 14 Februari 2004, Marco Pantani died at the age of 34 of a cocaine overdose in a simple hotel room in Rimini not far from his luxurious villa just outside of Cesenatico. Leaving the world behind with that nagging one word question; why?
Had Pantani still been living today, we might have forgotten about him. Now that he’s dead, many of his fans make sure we will always remember him. Pantani is remembered with road paintings and roadside monuments along his old training routes in Emilia-Romagna in Italy. Here you can still chase the spirit of Il Pirata. These were the roads he loved and when you ride them you will discover why. The roads of Emilia-Romagna twist through a countryside filled with vineyards and ancient villages and towns. They inspire to ride.
And sometimes you feel Il Pirata riding next to you.