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February 14, 2004

Addio, Pirata

Marco Pantani, whose attacking style won both the Tour de France and the Giro d'Italia in 1998, was found dead in an Italian hotel Saturday night. No cause of death was immediately established.

According to VeloNews:

Staff at the hotel said Pantani checked in alone several days ago, and had appeared "strange and not quite there." The hotel porter raised the alarm at around 9.30 p.m. local time on Saturday after the 34-year-old Italian failed to appear. Hotel staff knocked on his door, which was locked. When they finally entered the room, Pantani was found dead, lying on his back, ANSA reported.

Pantani was kicked out of the 1999 Giro two days short of a likely victory for a hematocrit level above the legal limit, then was suspended in 2002, and didn't ride a full schedule in either 2002 or 2003. Pantani had spent time last year in a clinic that treated drug use and depression.

Italian cycling star Mario Cipollini said Pantani's death was a great tragedy.

"I am devastated," he said. "It's a tragedy of enormous proportions for everyone involved in cycling. I'm lost for words."

Franco Ballerini, coach of the Italian national cycling team, was quoted as saying: "It's something that is so huge, it doesn't seem true."

Posted by Frank Steele on February 14, 2004 in Marco Pantani, Tour news | Permalink


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