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Tributes to Il Pirata
By Staff
Date: 2/18/2004
Tributes to Il Pirata


~ Favorite Pantani Moments ~


Believe it or not, my favorite Marco moment was in this year's Giro. Marco had crashed and looked out of it at the side of the road. A couple days later he put in a late attack toward a mountain top finish. He was caught, but then he attacked again. It was surreal watching him go again, like the old days. Simoni marked both attacks and ended up winning the stage.

At the time, I was happy, being a huge Gilberto fan. But when I watched the video a few months ago, I realized what a shame it was that Simoni didn't let him go for the win. It would have been special for Italian cycling. (I think Simoni earned himself some bad karma for the Tour -- the great GC guys allow the little fish to roam.) --Julian


On the podium in Paris in 1998. His Pirata face, earring and all, seemed to restore humanity, not to say humour to a Tour de France that had been devastated and disgraced by the Festina affair, and the hurried and highly suspect departures of so many other teams. I know what happened after, but at the time, Pantani was a lantern of joy. --pugdog



My favorite Marco moment was when he won the Ventoux. It was the way he did it: attacking again and again and clearly gaining victory over his most vicious enemy - himself. That showed what kind of a rider he was. --Jonathan


Alpe du Huez 1997 and Les Deux Alpes in 1998. Pantani did want Pantani did best: aggressive riding on difficult mountains. He made it look easy.

What a great rider he was; even in the 2003 Giro he was strong and tried to win a stage in the race which gave him so many good memories (and of course the bad ones, but forget those). Now, that chance has gone. --Nick B.


An (unbelievably) out of form Panto in the 97 tour......A baking hot day, all the favourites lined up......Pantani goes to the front and within seconds, only Ullrich, Virenque and Riis were there.....he dropped them one by one. There is no other word for it but favourite cycling moment ever. --nigsy


I loved that stage too. You knew he meant business when he tossed away his cap near the foot of the climb. He really did fly up that mountain. I suppose someone is likely to better his time in this year's ITT, but it's hard to believe it will be beaten by much.

I can't help but wonder how much his hounding by the authorities contributed to his depression and, ultimately, his premature death. (Was really necessary for them to keep after him even when the evidence was so flimsy that they couldn't make it stick? Sorry, but I hope those magistrates are having some restless nights and days.) --Susan


he he - i liked it in 96 (?) when he sang his theme rap tune at the start of the Giro TV programme (was he really wearing pink dungarees and a polka dot shirt?) - he he - still smile when i think about it... --roadside fan



The TdF of 1994. The stage to Val Thorens. "Pantani fell heavily in the first climb towards Val Thorens and his injuries and the time lost almost forced him out. But he remounted his bike and heroically pedalled back to the front to finish in the lead group" (cyclingnews). He didn't win the stage, but the way he passed all the other riders while he was suffering and bleeding was something i will never forget. --ET


The Pantani moment that sticks out the most to me was during the 1998 Tdf and for a moment it looked like the race could collapse with the riders dropping out, but then they started saying that they should all ride to Paris, "for Pantani" who was in yellow.

It was a great tribute to Pantani, the champion, the sportsman, from his peers. Unfortunately the media worldwide and authorities in Italy, for their own reasons, were too determined to bring Pantani down for good. Yesterday they finally succeeded. --banesto



What a tragedy.

My memory of Pantani will be the Ventoux stage of the 2000 Tour de France.

As a lonely spectator, I was about 5k from the summit, just before they emerge from the forest into the open part of the climb. He had been dropped from the Armstrong group by about 30 seconds. "Bravo Marco, courage!" I shouted. He looked me straight in the eyes.

He re-caught the leaders and won the stage. Unbelievable! --Ventoux



In either the '97 or 98' Tour, Pantani is signalling for Gotti to pull through and help him, as they move away from the field. Pantani gets really angry. Gotti takes the bait and pulls through. Pantani attacks him immediately and moves away for a big win. --Dr. Phil


I must say I was as shocked by this as I've been in a long time. I was checking my mail from my hotel lobby, and let out a rather embarrasingly loud "Oh my God!" when I read the news. Really a terrible shame, and rather depressing.

I vote for Les Deux Alpes in 98. I liked watching what I thought was the underdog win from the favorite. --chrisfox



Farewell to one of my favorite riders. I was just getting into cycling when the Pirate was in his prime, and he was a plus in any tour!

My favorite moment??? Any tour when the Pirate was busy earning his name, coming out from behind, marking his moves, and taking off up the steepest climbs leaving the best of the rest in his dust.

A sad day when I learned the Pirate was gone. Dead alone in a hotel room. Brutal workings of being a scapegoat. Rest in peace, Pirate. --amifan


My favorite Pantani moment is whenever he was on the attack on the steepest climbs, without fear or favour to whom he attacked.
RIP Marco ..... RIP.  --Phantom



when il pirata missed the final turn at the top of alpe d'huez, corrected himself and went on to win the stage. pure climbing at its best.

what a shame and a waste. --bbnaz


Agree with that Special Moment, add Phil Liggett's comment to that to make it complete! Love to all.... --Harvester of Eyes


The greatest champions are undeniably human and Pantani was perhaps the most human of them all. We cheered for Indurain throughout his failed bid for #6 and applauded Armstrong for gritting out his #5. As for Pantani, in my mind he cemented his status as a true people's champion on the slopes of Monte Zoncolan in the 2003 Giro. No, he didn't have the form he had during his magical Giro/Tour double. . .but he had every measure of heart. Whenever he hit the mountains we never knew what the Pirate had in the tank, but we knew he'd be on empty when he reached the top. Sadly, his human struggles with cycling continued off the bike. The sport chewed him up and ultimately destroyed him. We have lost a great personality and champion in Pantani. Now his road turns up one final time; with angel's wings he carries himself up the lofty climbs which has always called his name. The peace you found so elusive awaits you there, Marco. --David



Marco Pantani was the reason I started cycling seriously in the early 90's.
I was inspired by his style and prowess on the bike, especially his climbing.
It is true that I lost a little respect for him when he was thrown of the Giro in 1999, but he was always an inspirational figure and his battles with first Ulrich and then Armstrong will always be remembered.
I am sad that he has gone.
Rest in peace Marco. --al perry


~ And Other Thoughts ~


Ciao Pirata - Ci Vediamo

--Werner - un Austriaco


This is what he said in a press room.

"To Win, it's not drugs I need - it's mountains."

Those words will be in my heart for as long as I live.

He was the best and will always be the best climber in the world. From a Canadian fan.

I love you Pirate   --Claude Lefevbre


A definition of a friend is A SECOND SELF. Pantani could have used several second selves!

And how many times does each of us feel so lonely, so isolated, for whatever the reason?

In this world, with all its complexities, there surely must be a way to reach out!

Feeling compassion for one another is one of the reasons why we live!

How many more untimely wasted beautiful lives must we lose before we realise that



The words of Piet Hein, poet and scientist (1905-1996):
A bit beyond perception's reach
I sometimes believe I see
That life is two locked boxes
Each containing the other's key.

Reading this and thinking about the man and cyclist I have only just begun to know through the comments that have been posted about him, Pantani seems to have truly been a soul whose life was "locked in two boxes, each containing the other's key."

Sov godt, Marco. Shalom. . . . --Louise



as if on cue,
from a mountain gun,
Pantani attacked,
moment of theatre,
porcelain figure,
defeating the mountain,
his rivals,
everyone but himself.  

--silver flyer



One Golden Earring

White clouds float,

On a soft summer breeze.

Sun shimmering,

On the high mountain road.


One rider.





Effortlessly as an angel.

Picturesque Beauty.


Light glistens,

Off beaded sweat,

Smooth shaven scalp.


One golden earring.


It is,

The Pirate.


His smile,

As brilliant as

The midday sun.


The twinkle

In his eye,

No star shall ever match.


His spirit,



Overshadows all.


Yet troubled.


Il Pirata,




Fly away.


With the Angels.

To a better place.


All forgotten,

Ease your pain.

Fly free again,

With a wink

And a smile.


Rest now,

Easy peace.

And know,






-- Paula Andrist

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