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The Death of Marco Pantani: A Biography

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  806 Ratings  ·  54 Reviews
At 9:30 pm on February 14, 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 Italia ...more
Paperback, 308 pages
Published September 1st 2007 by Phoenix (first published 2006)
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The Secret Race by Tyler HamiltonThe Rider by Tim KrabbéRacing Through the Dark by David MillarThe Death of Marco Pantani by Matt RendellSlaying the Badger by Richard  Moore
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James
This book broke my heart. Twice. Pantani was one of my favourite cyclists to watch - not always sensible or successful, but when he attacked, he could be like poetry on a bike. Unfortunately, like Pantani, this book is inconsistent, and only 'good in parts'. Firstly, as others have pointed out, the first third of the book is a struggle to read. Rendell has obviously been meticulous in his research. Interviewing people, who I'm surprised would be willing to speak to a journalist. And that shows. ...more
Marco Pavan
Jun 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sport, non-fiction
Marco was a cornerstone of my childhood. This book sails through those years and dives deep into obscure details and creeps. It's a sad story. However, the way the author jumps to conclusions is quite debatable and not always accurate in my opinion. The book itself could have been written better. Sometimes the flow is clumsy. Also, conversions from lira to yetis are often wrong...
Virgilio Pigliucci
I can't say I did not enjoy this book. I read it in record time ( for me ) and feel a little sad there are no more pages to read.

I did not like much the author's writing style, nor the cheap shots to Pantani towards the end of the book but my interest for the topic, Marco and cycling are huge and I wanted to read as much as possible about it.

Bottom line the book will make you dive deeply in the italian cycling world of the 80s and 90s with good digressions in the european circles from a point of
...more
Parrish Lantern
This book should should come under the same heading as " Don't meet your heroes".

The way Marco Pantani, danced up the hills is the way I taught my daughter to ride, that spirit, that certain grace, the way he appeared to transcend the limits of what a bike/rider was capable of, the way he didn't even appear to need the bike, he just danced, & whenever old Ma Gravity starting slapping riders down, he grabbed her by the hand and made this old lady the belle of the ball - dancing with her to t
...more
Andrew
Jul 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
A fascinating book and one which I think gives insight into the greatest deceit of the mid to late nineties and into the new millennium....the idea that heroic deeds where achieved on water , food and training alone.
In some ways the book has maybe tainted memories I had of a formidable stage of two in Pantani's career where he used to just accelerate and decimate the competition...the idea also that as so many where blood doping it was for a while an even playing field is disputed in this book a
...more
Gökhan
lots of technical detailes but nice book
Ayhan Gunay
Jul 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Read the book, watched the movie. They all gave me inspirations. As a golden rule, the book has much more to give than the movie for sure :)
İlhan Kesken
İçerik güzel ama okurken zorlandım. Bir spor ikonu olmanın, kırılgan bir insan için ne denli büyük bedelleri olabileceğini anlatan bir biyografi. Spor temiz olmalı çünkü insanın kendini yaratma sürecidir, insanın kendi üstünde icra ettiği sanatıdır, dürüst olmalıdır.
Will Tate
Mar 31, 2013 rated it liked it
It is always a sobering experience to read about the all-too-human foibles of your heroes. As a lifelong follower of professional cycling I have had many occasions to lament over the drug-tainted careers of top racers, almost to the extent that most (until the recent stringent clean-up of the sport) were probably guilty until found innocent. But the decline and fall of Marco Pantani was a particularly hard pill to swallow - 'Il Pirata' lit up cycling in the mid 90s, a diminutive Italian climber ...more
Martin Mccann
Aug 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
As a man who inspired, and still inspires, strong emotional responses from fans and those who knew him, Marco Pantani was a complex character, viewed by those who knew him in different ways, dependent on what strata of his life he allowed them to enter. To research and produce a balanced work that pays tribute to the legend but looks at the dark and light of the man, must have been a long process for Matt Rendell, especially as so many have anointed themselves protector of their version of the l ...more
Mike
Nov 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone
Since I have a life-long affection for cycling and professional road-racing, this book was of interest to me on many levels. I can see why non-cyclists might find it a bit tedious in places as the author attempts to nail down each an every theory concerning Pantani's life and death. Because conspiracy and inaccuracy have dominated the facts even since Pantani was pulled from the Giro D'Italia, Rendell has tried to answer these questions with deep and thorough research. To a non-cyclist the bulk ...more
Ryan
Jul 01, 2008 rated it really liked it
I had to put more serious reading aside - if you can call Dune serious - to dig into this in preparation for Le Grand Boucle. So far, good choice; this is like sports writing (epic feats! brutal competition! the flamboyant arrogance that comes from victory and the degradation and fragility of defeats!) merged with tabloid topics (filthy bald man trashes hotel room, snorts mountains of cocaine, dies broken and alone ... but, hey, at least we can talk to his psychoanalysts to see "what went wrong" ...more
Tim Byron
Sep 15, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: sport
The review of this book in the Independent says 'An exhaustively detailed and beautiful book.... a fitting and ambivalent tribute - to the man and the dark heart of the sport he loved'. Exhaustive is a fitting word - and at time it is exhausting reading. I was a 24 year old fresh faced cycling enthusiast in 1998 when Marco Pantani road past - alone - near the summit of Les Deux Alps during the Tour de France. Pantani had wings on the punishing mountain roads, and being so close to him, almost ab ...more
Brian
Jun 11, 2012 rated it it was ok
(2.5) Interesting subject, well-researched but poorly written

It felt like a script for a TV documentary...lots of quotations that could've been better integrated or just converted to narrative. Unless they're presenting conflicting points of view, no sense quoting at length (with some clunky translations at times). Along similar lines, Rendell injected himself into the narrative a few times, worst when he talks about when he asked a question of one of his interviewees. Ot was totally irrelevant,
...more
D
Jun 12, 2009 rated it liked it
Matt Rendell is nothing if not thorough in his dealings with the life, and trouble times and dodgy blood of Marco Pantani. He follows the young man from his beginnings - his Communist Grandfather who encouraged him onto a bike - to his ugly ending in a lonely hotel room in Rimini, from a cocaine overdose on valentines day 2004.

Italy has been looking for a champion like Pantani since Coppi and he did appear and burned very brightly in 1998 - winning both the Giro and the Festina scandal ridden To
...more
Paul Rann
Apr 19, 2012 rated it liked it
Fascinating and tragic tale about one of Italy's favourite sons. Pantani could be likened to the sporting greats of yester year - a genius, unbelievable natural talent, relying on touch and feel, listening to his body and acting accordingly. But like most flawed geniuses Pantani had problems going back to his childhood. The book explores these and charts his progress as an amateur cyclist moving into the elite professional ranks and at the height of his powers capturing the rare Giro d'Italia/To ...more
Jude Nonesuch
Apr 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: factual, biography
Kind of want to do this book justice, despite its not getting a fifth star; it's super-beautifully written and is a really poignant and moving story; I guess it's just that once it gets into the real "descent" part of the story it becomes the kind of thing that, whilst still humanly tragic, as any such thing is, becomes just the kind of numbingly depressive, hopeless and -- the only word I can think of is 'boring' -- by which I mean, all of these stories end up pretty much the same and the detai ...more
Joyce
Jan 04, 2009 rated it really liked it
I bought this book for Richard as he is an avid cyclist and Tour and Giro enthusiast. Naturally he was interested as he knew all about Marco Pantani.

I ended up reading it when we were in Mexico and I ran out of books to read on vacation. It was really quite good even for a person like me who knows a bit about cycling but am not an expert by any means. It does a great job of explaining about r-EPO doping and enabled me to get greater insight into the scandals of late.

Pantani is an iconic Italian
...more
Richard Graveling
Jan 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
Very analytical and insightful account of this tragic man's life and death. A completely different kettle of fish to other more hackneyed cycling 'heroes', and deserves his place as a unique athlete who sadly had his achievements ruined by doping culture.

Rendell manages to get the reader to feel for Pantani without being biased or emotional, there is no agenda - just well-researched biography. Linked well to the Festina debacle of 1998 and Pantani's role in the resulting fallout. Encourages the
...more
pocket rocket
Dec 27, 2013 rated it liked it
It was pretty well detailed and researched. Could be a bit dry in spots. There was a huge number of people mentioned in the book and sometimes I had trouble keeping straight who was who and what their relationship to Marco was. Sometimes the details could be overwhelming.

Pantani himself doesn't come off terribly sympathetically in this, as he acted like persecuted victim when he really wasn't. Rendell makes a pretty good case for him being guilty as hell, but Pantani seemed to be positively delu
...more
GWC
Jun 28, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, bikes, sports
Rendell writes about the drama of Pantani's self-destruction very well, but I was hoping for more about his bike racing. For example, the book explains numerous times how Pantani thought of himself as an "artist", but rarely compares that self-promoting image with his actual race tactics and results. We get very little about his relationship with other riders and how this affected his achievements. The case that Pantani doped is laid out very well, but it is more often presented as part of Panta ...more
Eric Jeppsen
This is a well-researched book about one of the more tragic characters in modern cycling. Unfortunately, this book is difficult to work through, weighed down by endless people, places, and dates.

The biggest problem I had with this book is that it too focused on technical matters and not enough on Pantani himself. As a result, the story of Pantani the man is lost in a sea of graphs and numbers.

Don't let the two-star rating fool you; I recommend this book to any serious cycling fan. Just brace y
...more
CG InDE
May 21, 2014 rated it liked it
Oftentimes overly detailed and bogged down with figures and names, this examination of Pantani's inevitable demise can overwhelm the reader. However, it is clear on one point- Marco Pantani began and ended his career with drugs. Not a single performance was achieved with bread and water. Therefore, his name should be stricken forever from the list of greats and this continued lauding of media and fans must desist.
Garrett Burnett
Aug 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Rendell examines the intersection of sports and life. You never get the sense that you know Pantani, but I don't think that's necessarily a flaw here. It serves to illustrate Pantani's mysterious, paranoid, mercurial nature. As Rendell mentions early on, everyone close to Marco knew him in a different way and wanted to protect his legacy in a different way. Ultimately, it's the sad story of drugs, fame, and no one caring enough about Marco to protect rather than enable him.
Aaron Kent
Feb 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012
This is an exemplary book focusing on the sheer chaos that goes on behind the scenes in professional cycling, the prices that professional athletes pay in efforts to be in the elite and ultimately how this more often than not creates the sad foundation upon which the sporting public readily invests its dreams, disapointment and and self delusion upon some larger than life people.
John Poplett
Aug 07, 2012 rated it liked it
American fans of the Tour de France perhaps remember him for his brief rivalry with Lance Armstrong. Fans from other countries prefer to remember him for his "panache" or derring-do. A gloomy peek into the guts of professional cycling and overall a pretty sad story of a live cut short by cocaine. You can't say the author didn't warn you though. It's right there in the title!
Martin Roberts
Aug 23, 2015 rated it it was ok
I gave up on this book despite being a life-long keen cyclist who was deeply saddened at Pantani's downfall and untimely death. Reading about every pedal stroke in a race Pantani rode at 17 gets in the way of the story, and neither did I like the pop-psychological conjecture. While I appreciated the background, some context would have been nice.
Phill Lloyd
May 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
Never write about your heroes, they say. Maybe. But maybe, too, by believing in them a little less, we may credit them with a little more humanity. We may also find we believe in ourselves a little more.
Jamie
Mar 23, 2008 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: cycling fans
Recommended to Jamie by: Jesse
Typographical errors are just really, really annoying in a published book and this had many. The story was a little heavy on the doping side of the sport and lighter on the psychological and emotional life of Pantani.
Ben Hughes
A well research look into the life of this great cyclist. Keep in mind it is entitled the "death" of Pantani. this book does not glorify his career - instead is shines a harsh light on his life as a doper and drug addict...sad, but a very intriguing book.
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