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May 21, 2010

Marco Pantani, Il Pirata

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Marco Pantani (January 13, 1970–February 14, 2004) was an Italian road racing cyclist, one of the best climbers in professional road bicycle racing. He won the Tour de France and the Giro d'Italia in 1998. He was known as 'Il Pirata' (the pirate) because of the bandana he wore. His career was beset by drug abuse allegations after a failed blood test in the 1999 Giro d'Italia. He died after a cocaine overdose in 2004.

Pantani was born in Cesena, Romagna. At 1.72m and 57 kg (5 ft 8 in, 126 lb/9 st),Marco Pantani had the classic build for a mountain climber.
Pantani's climbing style was to stay on the lower section of his handlebars, often pedaling out of the saddle. Bianchi built for him a bike with a longer steerer tube for higher handlebars.

During the early evening of 14 February 2004 Pantani was found dead at a hotel in Rimini, Italy. An autopsy revealed he a cerebral edema and heart failure, and a coroner's inquest revealed acute cocaine poisoning. Mario Cipollini said "I am devastated. It's a tragedy of enormous proportions for everyone involved in cycling. I'm lost for words."

Pantani was buried in his hometown, Cesenatico. Twenty thousand mourners were at his funeral.