r-EPO man

In Memoriam: Il Pirata, Ten Years Gone

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I don’t know if it’s because I see something of myself in them or if it awakens some kind of nurturing instinct, but I always seem to find myself drawn to tragically flawed figures.

Layne Staley and Marco Pantani strike me as two halves of the same whole; incredibly talented yet tortured with mortally addictive personalities, both set loose into a world of over-indulgence. Everyone – including themselves – saw the writing on the wall in the months or even years leading up to their deaths, but everyone seemed helpless to stop the inevitable: a lonely death. To hear Staley sing is to watch Pantani climb; beauty is to witness an artist pouring their anguish into their trade.

I’ve been watching the 1998 Tour and Giro during my morning turbo sessions, and even with the lens through which we now view those rides, his talent was undeniable, but so was his fragile psyche. You can almost taste his self-doubt even as he flies up the mountains like a soaring eagle.

Today, St. Valentines Day, marks the tenth anniversary of Marco’s death, and with that we dive into the archives for a Kermis on Brett’s look at our fallen hero. See also a previous year’s Valentines Day Memorial.

May you go with Merckx, Marco.

// In Memoriam // Kermis // Look Pro // Nostalgia // Reverent

  1. RIP Marco

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  3. RIP il Pirata there is just so much I could say, but will just leave it simply Rapha has a nice tribute http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xfN3uxk-vRs&feature=youtu.be

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  4. I’ve had this photo on my desktop for an unwritten Pantani post, from Il Dolore. The early years. Putting the hurt on a Kelme rider.

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  5. “It was effortless for him…” All else aside, watching Il Pirata float uphill was art.

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  6. February 14 has passed down this end of the planet, the flowers are wilting, hangovers nursed, a night of passion abating. A few celebrate a life long lost, others condemn that same life, yet the majority remain oblivious. Flawed, yes, brilliant, of course, a victim, possibly… regardless of the semantics, this was a man who showed a human side to the machinations of the time he was a part of, and for his fragile character we cannot condemn him. RIP Marco.

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  7. I’m not sure I’ll see such artistry again in my lifetime. Watching him in full flight was captivating, whether it was up a mountain or down one. I can’t climb out of the saddle with my hands in the drops without thinking of him, and I suspect none of us can.

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  8. From what I’ve read and learned about Pantani, he certainly seems to have been a tortured soul. He fought his demons just as we all do. Unfortunately on that day the demons got the best of him. I, for one, truly hope that Marco was able to finally find that peace.

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  9. My pain is self-chosen. At least so the prophet says. I could either burn, or cut off my pride and burn some time A head full of lies is the weight, tied to my waist. The river of deceit pulls down, the only direction we flow is down. My pain is self-chosen. At least I believe it to be…. – Layne Stayley Layne must have been a cyclist at heart. He is missed, as is Marco.

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  10. I didn’t find road cycling until long after the days of Marco, but from what I’ve learned on this site the comparison with Layne is apt. Like missing the days of Marco, I never got to see AIC perform while Layne was alive. I did see Jerry Cantrell in Vancouver some years after Layne’s passing. Great show, but it would have been so much greater with Layne’s voice. It’s always so tragic when those whose lives are so tortured leave us too early. I often wonder if their tortured souls would have found some solace in the knowledge of the impact they had on the many they never knew, and the reverence with which their names are spoken. Even now after all this time.

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  11. @Mike_P

    I’m not sure I’ll see such artistry again in my lifetime. Watching him in full flight was captivating, whether it was up a mountain or down one. I can’t climb out of the saddle with my hands in the drops without thinking of him, and I suspect none of us can.

    +1

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  12. Kermis Friday! A melancholy one, with Marco’s passing. Amazing how different he looked with even a bit of hair. Also amazing how different the racers looked not long ago, just due to the baggy kit and the non-hidden cable routing. Did anyone else read the COTHO piece on cyclingnews? As someone who never liked, and never hated, him I feel much more ambivalent than most readers/commenters on there. Oh, photo #8…the shirtless dude is reason enough to be a crank turner – that guy is in amazing shape and he ain’t a spring chicken. The built in diet, the needing to stay at climbing weight, the fear of Le Girdle Bibs. What a sport! I actually play futbol twice a week and a few guys are 70 and in excellent shape. They go out to the pub every Tuesday after “practice” as well, they just don’t overdo it. Very impressive dudes. I hope I can still run around at that age! Heck, I have to be on the velodrome until I’m 100, like the Frenchman who keeps on setting his own records.

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  13. I too have been watching some past races lately. We’re actually having a winter here and it feels like an eternity since I’ve had a good string of long road rides. I’m reminded of how lucky I am to live in a very favorable climate these days. But, regarding captivation – I’m new to the sport compared to many of you and never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d a) be into solo endurance sports b) watch people ride bicycles on television/monitor. But turning on a stage race I’m instantly reminded of how much is going on in the peloton at all times. To the uninformed eye, it’s just some folks ridin’ bikes. When you cycle, and learn more, damn there is so much going on! (not necessarily on applicable to cycling; the more you know about anything, the more complex even the simple things are). What a sport!

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  14. @Souleur

    RIP il Pirata there is just so much I could say, but will just leave it simply Rapha has a nice tribute http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xfN3uxk-vRs&feature=youtu.be

    I remember reading about the plans for this Pantani documentary early last year. I looks like the trailer was just posted today. Definitely a must-see. “I always seem to find myself drawn to tragically flawed figures.” Me too, Frank. Me too.

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  15. Pantani was a fantastic climber. Doper or not, I suspect Charly Gaul was there to welcome him onto the pearly switchbacks.

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  16. Sad really. I loved watching him climb. He made it look so easy. I remember hearing the news of his untimely meeting with his maker (if you believe in such things) and just being sad. I’ll always wonder why it seems the most inspirational stars that we follow, that we long to be like, don’t stay long in this world (PSH, Hendrix, Staley, Cobain……the list seems endless).

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  17. @TheVid

    My pain is self-chosen. At least so The Prophet says. I could either burn, or cut off my pride and burn some time A head full of lies is the weight, tied to my waist. The river of deceit pulls down, the only direction we flow is down. My pain is self-chosen. At least I believe it to be…. – Layne Stayley Layne must have been a cyclist at heart. He is missed, as is Marco.

    I actually wrote about this song during the Giro last year (its hard not to repeat yourself a bit, I’m like an old grandpa) – I totally agree. http://www.velominati.com/tradition/self-chosen-il-pirata-il-giro/

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  18. Going to take time this year to learn as much as I can about Marco Pantani — and then learn as much as I can from there.

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  19. On its surface, many judge Pantani as a doper, one of a self destructive, impulsive and perhaps smug euro snob. However, upon further study and reading, his personality could not have been farther from this. He indeed was an innocent soul, a nationalist inherently, a proud Italian. As he made rank, turning PRO, the capitalistic expectations of returns on investments revealed the organized dope of an era inflicted and something upon him, and perhaps it seems to me the great conflict was manifest between his inherent innocence and love of cycling that drove him deeply into depression and I can’t say I can find a thing wrong about that perspective. Forever, he will be loved on this day of love, it seems so perpetually fitting for his inherent virtue and innocence

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