Riding with Pantani

The longer he is gone, the more he is remembered. Former superstar cyclist Marco Pantani (1970-2004) is and wont be forgotten.

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.

Below a photo report of a visit in 2014.

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On the left Primoz from Slovenia. On the right Andrea, our friend and guide.
Spazio Pantani is the museum about late cyclist Marco Pantani.
Spazio Pantani in the old railway station of Cesenatico is the museum about late cyclist Marco Pantani. When you visit it you will understand why Pantani lived in a big villa. He needed space for all his cycling stuff…
Pantani's bike of his dreamseason 1998 when he won the Giro and Tour de France. I don't know what the carbon brake levers are doing there. They weren't around yet in 1998.
Pantani’s bike of his dreamseason 1998 when he won the Giro and Tour de France. I don’t know what the carbon brake levers are doing there. They weren’t around yet in 1998.
We will never know what Marco Pantani was thinking but his paintings give witness of a complicated mind.
Pantani the artist. We will never know what Marco Pantani was thinking but his paintings give witness of a mind that was occupied with more than cycling. You wont find any bikes or cyclists on Pantani’s paintings. .
Bandanna or Bandana: ban·dan·na noun \ban-ˈda-nə\ : a square piece of cloth that is used as a head covering or worn around the neck (Merriam-Webster) The bandana became a trademark of Pantani.
Bandanna or Bandana: ban·dan·na noun \ban-ˈda-nə\
: a square piece of cloth that is used as a head covering or worn around the neck (Merriam-Webster)
The bandana became a trademark of Pantani.
This is the Strada Provinciale 79 between Santa Maria Riopetra and Montegelli. If roads were music than this one would certainly be disco!
This is the Strada Provinciale 79 between Santa Maria Riopetra and Montegelli. If roads were music than this one would certainly be disco!
The Montevecchio was Pantani's favorite climb.
The Montevecchio was Pantani’s favorite climb. Mamma Tonina Pantani: ,,He loved the scenery there so much. In summertime he would sometimes step of the bike to pick some figs.”
A rock at the top of Montevecchio now carries the picture of Marco Pantani.
A rock at the top of Montevecchio now carries the picture of Marco Pantani. Not visible are two tiny weathered Teddy bears under the rock.
Giovanni Pascoli was Italy's most important poet at the turn of the 19th and 20th century. Emilia Romagna was his home.
Giovanni Pascoli was Italy’s most important poet at the turn of the 19th and 20th century. Emilia Romagna was his home.

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In Italy you never ride alone.
In Italy you never ride alone.If you do want to ride alone, just ride really really fast.
This kind lady, who lives on the first slopes of the Carpegna, gave us shelter when the rain came pooring down.
This kind lady, who lives on the first slopes of the Carpegna, gave us shelter when the rain came pooring down.
,,Is it dangerous'', we asked the man. ,,I think so'', he said. ,,Can we go through'', we asked. ,,I don't know'', he answered. ,,Howcome you dont know?'' ,,I came here to watch not to stand guard.''
,,Is it dangerous”, we asked the man. ,,I think so”, he said. ,,Can we go through”, we asked. ,,I don’t know”, he answered. ,,Howcome you dont know?”
,,I came here to watch not to stand guard.”
Il Carpegna mi basta!! The Carpegna is enough for me, said Pantani everytime he rode up the climb. I couldn't agree more.
Il Carpegna mi basta!! The Carpegna is enough for me, said Pantani everytime he rode up the climb. I couldn’t agree more.
Halfway the climb of the Cippo di Carpegna you can find this Pantani monument. Now everybody can pass Marco Pantani in a climb.
Halfway the climb of the Cippo di Carpegna you can find this Pantani monument. Now everybody can pass Marco Pantani in a climb.
Marco Pantani loved the Emilia-Romagna countryside. That is not really surprising if you would see it yourself.
Marco Pantani loved the Emilia-Romagna countryside. That is not really surprising if you would see it yourself.
Every day cyclists have their picture taken next to this monument for Pantani on top of the Cippo di Carpegna.
Every day cyclists have their picture taken next to this monument for Pantani on top of the Cippo di Carpegna.
A last farewell.
A last farewell. ‘Always with you Marco’

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