How Italian cycling is still in Marco Pantani's shadow

Sixteen years after passed Marco Pantani’s death and more than 20 since he was in his pomp, Peter Cossins examined his shadow over Italian cycling, which has been in a state of steady decline

Marco Pantani
(Image credit: Getty Images)

This feature originally appeared in the 21 May 2020 issue of Cycling Weekly, an Italian racing special. We're reproducing it here on what would have been Marco Pantani's 52nd birthday. 

On one side of the door the light is golden and vibrant, the glow provided by Fausto Coppi, Gino Bartali, Felice Gimondi and so many other legends of Italian cycle sport, their exploits captured in grainy black and white images. On the other side, it’s much darker, the gloom heightened by the Nosferatu-shaped shadow cast by the figure in the doorway, elfin, a bandanna covering his bald pate, a large earring hanging from each ear, very much living up to his alter ego, ‘the Pirate’.

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Peter Cossins has been writing about professional cycling since 1993, with his reporting appearing in numerous publications and websites including Cycling WeeklyCycle Sport and Procycling - which he edited from 2006 to 2009. Peter is the author of several books on cycling - The Monuments, his history of cycling's five greatest one-day Classic races, was published in 2014, followed in 2015 by Alpe d’Huez, an appraisal of cycling’s greatest climb. Yellow Jersey - his celebration of the iconic Tour de France winner's jersey won the 2020 Telegraph Sports Book Awards Cycling Book of the Year Award.