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Marco Pantani: The Legend of a Tragic Champion [Paperback]

By John Wilcockson (Editor) & Graham Watson (Editor)
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Item description for Marco Pantani: The Legend of a Tragic Champion by John Wilcockson & Graham Watson...

Marco Pantani won the Tour de France and Giro d'Italia in the same year, 1998, a feat previously achieved only by giants of the sport like Eddy Merckx, Fausto Coppi, and Miguel Indurain. The master cyclist was also a victim of the drug culture of pro cycling, eventually sinking into a deep depression and dying alone in a hotel room on Valentine's Day 2004. This book chronicles the highs and lows of Pantani's life and cycling career through the words of leading American and European sportswriters, and it includes candid color shots of Pantani in action by renowned sports photographer Graham Watson.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   181
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.5" Width: 6" Height: 9"
Weight:   0.75 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Feb 10, 2005
Publisher   VeloPress
ISBN  1931382654  
ISBN13  9781931382656  

Availability  0 units.

More About John Wilcockson & Graham Watson

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Wilcockson has been writing about cycling for 30 years

John Wilcockson currently resides in Boulder, in the state of Colorado.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > General
2Books > Subjects > Sports > Biographies > General
3Books > Subjects > Sports > General
4Books > Subjects > Sports > Individual Sports > Cycling > General

Reviews - What do customers think about Marco Pantani: The Legend of a Tragic Champion?

History of the Greatest Climber of his generation.  Aug 23, 2008
Informative book of a great climber who was destroyed both professionally and personally with never proven claims of doping. Like probably almost all of his generation Pantani almost certainly doped yet he was the one who was singled out. Such a sad story of a great climber who eventaully died from non-performance enhancing drug abuse.
Very Interesting, but Rather Tabloid-y  Jan 13, 2008
This is an excelent chronicle of one of history's greatest climbers. Because it presents both sides of the story, this book is worth a read. Contains scientific data as well as multitudes of tabloid-ish material. However, because it does, it tells the whole story. Marco Pantani, while an outstanding athlete, was the Britney Spears of Italian Cycling. This book captures that scene well!
Getting to know Pantani  Nov 5, 2006
One does not expect great literature in a sports biography and this book meets those expectations. However, it does succeed in making you feel like you do get to know Pantani - and it does give a lot of facts that help you to piece together the story and, probably, what was behind it.

Anyone who still thinks that "certain riders" didn't take performance-enhancing substances should read this book (especially the interview with his ex-girlfriend).

Anyone who wants more insight into the TDF should read this book.

Anyone who knows even a little about Pantani and wants to understand his tragic story should read this book.
A Scapegoat in a Cancerous Sport  Jul 19, 2006
Beginning with Marco's own words written on nine pages torn from his own passport mere months before his tragic death, "Marco Pantani: The Legend of a Tragic Champion" both starts and culminates with his final goodbye to the world with his last defiant act fired back at those he felt were ultimately responsible for his demise. The book retraces Marco's remarkable assent to the top of both his sport and life starting from his meager upbringing as a plumbers son in Cesena, Italy to his drug induced death on valentines day 2004.

Aboard his first racing bike, a bright red Vicini, Marco won his first race at the age of 14 and never looked back. Although a quick read at only 181 pages, the authors not only rekindle Marco's spirit in the reader, but allow one to step back in time and relive some of the most memorable exploits in modern cycling history when many of us sat riveted in front of our televisions, saying to ourselves, "There he goes", as the mountains pitched upward. For how welcoming these memories are however, the tragic side of the plot is intertwined throughout, reaching a climax with the only published interview to date of Marco's estranged girlfriend of seven years Christina Jonsson.

Although Marco's ultimate public demise might have begun on June 5, 1999 at Madonna di Campiglio.... "that black day when his Giro d'Italia pink jersey was tarnished with blood", Marco's fall into his own personal abyss ran far deeper than most would ever know. Christina openly acknowledges in her interview of Marco's competitive doping practices. With nothing held back beyond the tears, she goes as far as telling how she would assist in holding his arm while he injected himself and of the "products he had forever in a sealed container in the fridge". The beautiful sport of cycling has become, she states, "an incredible hypocrisy..... Marco had to accept to race in a system that didn't allow him not to dope". She goes on to say what most of us choose not to or simply hope isn't the case when adding up the current state of the professional peleton..... "To dope means searching to improve your performance to give a better show and to feed dreams. They pay these athletes because they allow people to dream, that's all. If there is no longer a show there's no more emotion and nothing to relate to."

Governing bodies need to make a statement from time to time to legitimize their ability to turn a blind eye to he true reality of the situation. One might have hoped that the circumstances behind Marco's passing could serve as a wakeup call for both cycling and the greater sporting world, but it seems that history does in fact tend to repeat itself and the cancer in cycling only continues to grow. One only needs to look at the recent expulsion of Jan Ullrich and Ivan Basso (among others) from starting the 2006 Tour de France. Marco wasn't the first tragic story and he will by no means be the last. Let's just hope the stories of others don't end with the same misfortune as that of Marco. Tragic yes... champion even more so.

The thumb screws were tightened in Marco's case such that his tragic spiral downward appeared to be of his own hand from outward appearances. Is it natural for speeds to increase steadily from year to year far beyond the pace of enhancements in technologies and/or training methods? Or was Marco simply a scapegoat of the system in which he found himself entangled in the web of cycling's programmatic unfairness. This book gives a compelling argument toward the latter through the life and times of Marco Pantani: The Legend of a Tragic Champion.
Merely average  Mar 28, 2006
It's always sad when something has a wonderful opportunity to be great but settles for being merely average. That was never the way of Italian cycling icon Marco Pantani, but it is, sadly, the only way to look at Marco Pantani: the Legend of a Tragic Champion.

Pantani deserved better. He was obviously -- and fatally -- flawed, but through his flamboyant personality, dramatic cycling moves, and unmistakable appearance he also brought much-needed color to a sport increasingly dominated by single-minded robot-like riders. He died a dramatic, tragic, and pitiful death, and the world of sport was left poorer for it.

Pantani's persona is just one of the reasons this volume should have been much, much better than it is.

Another equally important reason is that editor John Wilcockson assembled a virtual Dream Team of cycling writers for the project, from venerable Italian journalist Pier Bergonzi, the chief writer with the pink-paged La Gazetta dello Sport, to his insightful friendly rival Sergio Neri at BiciSport. Add France's Guillaume Prabois, and the staff of the U.S.-based VeloNews. Even Graham Watson, the best-known photographer in the business, contributed some of his signature images.

These guys pulled out all the stops, tracking down the Ukrainian maid who cleaned Pantani's room in the hotel where he died of a drug overdose (he kept he very warm, she said) and the tourist who was the last person to see Pantani alive (he said Pantani told him, in a local dialect, "I don't know if there will be another day"). Swiss journalist Michel Beuret even manages a thoughtful interview with Christina Jonsson, Pantani's former girlfriend, who avoided the press in the wake of the cyclist's death.

But I think Mr. Wilcockson fails the effort just as a team captain fails his support riders when the pace is too much for him, despite their hard work and preparation.

There are many problems. Sloppy editing means that there are contradictory bits scattered all through the text: at one point the book says only four men ever won the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France in the same year; in other parts it says there were seven (seven is correct). At several points it says the 2003 Giro was Pantani's last race, but in the appendix is points out (correctly) that he competed without distinction in the challenging Tour of the Basque Country five weeks later.

What's more, the writing is uneven, plodding, and predictable. Of course, one reason for that is because the bulk of the book was written in Italian and much of what's left was written in French. But giving it a more unified feel and level of quality has to have been on Mr. Wilcockson's list of duties as editor. Don't blame the translator: he got it to this point. Someone needed to finish the job.

And don't get me started on the title. The world "legend" first and foremost means something "presented as history but unlikely to be true." While, technically, the word can also refer to someone so admired they seem to be the stuff of a legend, this is referring to the story. Besides, why the confusion? Why not simply call it "Marco Pantani: The STORY of a Tragic Champion"? Or "The LESSON of a Tragic Champion"? "Or we could get alliterative with "The Tragedy of a Troubled Champion." Should I go on?

I must say I am very tempted to award this review only two stars, but I think its subject earns it a gentleman's C. Still, I had hoped for much more. Chances are, you do, too.

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