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Pantani - most overrated cyclist of all time

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Pantani - most overrated cyclist of all time

25 May 2009 15:19

During his entire 10-year professional career, besides stage victories, Pantani won only 2 out of over 30 most important races available each year. 4 out of his 16 stage wins in the grand tours were tainted by the proven use of doping in the Giro from which he was expelled and one, on Mt Ventoux, was a gift from Lance Armstrong.
His bronze medal in the World's was marred by the positive doping test result in a race a few days later (65 hematocrit reading). These are the palmares of one of the greatest cyclists in the history of mankind (I almost forgot one stage win in the Tour of Suisse). Let's not forget that he begged his colleagues not to boycott the Tour in which he was the leader.
Why did he dope in the Giro after such easy victories in the previous one and the Tour? Why did he fail to win these races previously or afterwards? The answer is, that, without doping, he was a man of very limited capabilities, his sole cycling talent being a relatively brief spurt (a few kilometers) up the final climb.
Consider this: He never won the red polka-dot jersey in the Tour (one must be consistent to do it). Outisde the 2 tours that he won and the one that he was caught in (all three back to back), whenever he tried to attack at an early phase of a mountainous stage, he was caught, usually losing much time to the leaders or flatly abandoning the race. Even if he attacked too early on the final climb, he was likely to be caught and passed by others (eg. by Indurain, Leblanc, Ullrich). That's also why he never won a mountain ITT. Such stages were too long for his stamina. Similarly he was unable to maintain good form in back-to-back stages, winning one and then losing a bunch in the next.
Then a sudden, temporary metamorphosis occurred in the three consecutive tours. We all know, how it ended.
Marco Pantani probably holds the world record for the number of times a cyclist was caught for doping offenses; 3 suspensions during his career and twice after death. The post-mortem examination showed illegal substances in his system. In the Operacion Puerto, he was found to have been prescribed twice as much doping as others, who received 2-year suspensions. Moreover, he used cocaine. Remember, what happened to Ullrich and Boonen when they were caught using recreational drugs outside competition?
He was one of the 2 racers caught in possesson of illegal substances during the all-out search during a Giro. The other one, Dario Frigo, was called "scum" by the cycling world, while Pantani remained a hero. Despite all this, he never admitted cheating.
His record achievements at the Alp d'Huez don't mean much. One can concentrate on this one climb, saving energy during this and the previous stages and start an all-out effort from the point at which the time starts running. It's diffferent to cover the last ascent after a 200 km solo ride with 6 intermediate climbs from racing only during the last ascent, catching up with the others who attacked earlier.
How about his virtues other than cheating, limited capabilities and meager palmares?
He must be found guilty of one of the most heinous offenses a cyclist can commit. While riding in a Giro, on the deciding, most difficult mountain stage, he kept charging on the climbs, leaving his team leader, Garzelli, exposed to the attacks by his rivals for the overall title, theoretically better climbers, Casagrande and Simoni, thus putting in peril his teammate's chances for the overall vioctory for the sake his own stage triumph. While Simoni was able to keep pace with Pantani, other racers were poking jokes at Garzelli on account of his 'loyal' domestique. Luckily for Garzelli, the stage ended with a long descent, the three contenders regrouped and crossed the finish line together. Eventually, Garzelli claimed the overall victory during the ITT. Pantani, meanwhile, despite being seemingly the strongest on the day when he abandoned his comrade, failed to win the stage; one more proof of his lack of stamina. After the race, Garzelli thanked Pantani for helping him in achieving the overall victory. Was it sarcasm or was he blinded by the cult of his domestique? Pantani was consistently dropped early during that Giro, except for the stage he tired to win. Even in the mountainous ITT, which directly followed, he finished somewhere outside the top 30. Despite his superb stamina, the poor chap must have been tired after the previous day's effort, plus the ITT was over 30 km long.
Let's not forget Pantani's other talents. After all, he proved to be a cemedian and a prima donna. After a fall at a slow speed up an ascent, in which a number of others also 'suffered', he was the only one that didn't immediately get back on the bike, but sat down at the roadside making tragic faces to the camera for a couple of minutes. He was at this point outside the contention for the top 10 overall and didn't suffer during the fall in the least. After the Giro he demanded to be included in the Tour, evidently as the only competent person to 'check out how good Lance Armstrong really is', as he put it. He just had checked Dariusz Baranowski to find out that he is slightly better than himself, finishing the Giro 12th and 13th, respectively.
After the Mount Ventoux stage, where Armstrong stopped pedaling on the last uphill meters, allowing Pantani to win, at the post-stage press conference the victor declared simply that he won on account of being better racer than Lance.
When he lost his first Giro to Berzin, being in the meantime the virtual leader, some commentators pointedly explained, that he made a mistake by slowing down. Had I not made such mistakes, I would have beaten Eddy Merckx.
czeczma
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25 May 2009 15:28

Dei morti parla bene
stephens
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25 May 2009 15:31

Come on! No need to be so venomous about a young man who had all the pressure in the world on his shoulders, and couldn't mentally handle it. The poor bloke is dead now, so leave off him.
User avatar Animal
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25 May 2009 16:27

The debate about his doping I think it needs to be placed in proper light: namely that his competition was all on jet fuel and he was the fastest up hill till he was caught.

I thus think it's a bit naive to question his talent, as you do, simply because he was doped.

Then there was the Pantani mistique, and not just among Italians. It was the way he, and only he, who could set ablaze the course with such bravura and style. For this Indurain, after his mental illness and death, called him a tragic genius.

Pantani, whether you like him or not, was no ordinary cyclist. There was something aesthetic about how he soared away. Simoni called him a Picasso on the bike.

His methods were what they were, in a sport though, where everyone participated in the arms race. To think otherwise is just stupid. Just damn stupid.
User avatar rhubroma
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25 May 2009 16:30

To be a one of the "Greats" you dont need to win. Pantani was fantastic for cycling in the 90's when the TDF was dominated by Indurain.
And unlike Armstong and other GT contenders Pantani used to ride the classics too.
Pantani entertained everyone. He was an exciting cyclist and one that will be missed.
Read this its a great read, really tells you a bit more about his personal life.
"The Death of Marco Pantani" by Matt Rendell.
User avatar ukpaul
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25 May 2009 17:05

pantani isn't more overrated than, let's say, jim morrisson, janis joplin or kurt cobain.
rghysens
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25 May 2009 17:23

Wrong, the answer is Tom Danielson.
Thoughtforfood
 

25 May 2009 17:33

Thoughtforfood wrote:Wrong, the answer is Tom Danielson.

Considering all the pre-Giro hype, I say Leipheimer is starting to close him down.;)
Time for another visit to Hotel Ferrari.
Mellow Velo
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25 May 2009 17:38

Then let's not talk at all! At least let's not make films nor raise monuments. The point I'm trying to make is that Pantani is nowadays probably the most talked-about former cyclist and it's nothing but accolades. I don't think he deserves it. I can think of at least 30 better cyclist in the post-war period, based just on the palmares from the great races and this is the only area where he enjoyed success.
czeczma
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25 May 2009 18:05

Mellow Velo wrote:Considering all the pre-Giro hype, I say Leipheimer is starting to close him down.;)
Time for another visit to Hotel Ferrari.


I believe Mr Ferrari prefers campers. Good point with LL.
Thoughtforfood
 

25 May 2009 18:11

@czeczma : i'm afraid you don't see what's cycling is really about. It's all about the passion, grinta, emotions,...
User avatar Buffalo Soldier
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25 May 2009 18:41

czeczma wrote:Then let's not talk at all! At least let's not make films nor raise monuments. The point I'm trying to make is that Pantani is nowadays probably the most talked-about former cyclist and it's nothing but accolades. I don't think he deserves it. I can think of at least 30 better cyclist in the post-war period, based just on the palmares from the great races and this is the only area where he enjoyed success.


i dont think he is the most talked about, but there ya go, maybe at the moment with the giro going on..

but anyway.. regardless of what he won or didnt won, for me he is one of the greats.. amazing to watch, he was like a ballet dancer on the pedals, ive never seen a rider who climbed in the way he did, not will i ever again will..

its not all about winning...

can you please name the 30 cyclists better than marco please :D
dimspace
 

25 May 2009 20:07

Good God. With this argument hinged on doping - during probably the most heavily doped period in the history of cycling - you could probably replace Pantani's name with anyone and make the same claims.

Marco is gone, and he went in a way that no one ever should go. Let the man rest in peace.
User avatar Alpe d'Huez
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25 May 2009 20:07

Pantani was the one of THE greatest pure climbers I have ever seen, overated?, what's the criteria -he was that good going uphill he won grand tours.

And cycling is the poorer without the talent and the theater of people like him.
User avatar lookkg386
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25 May 2009 20:52

stephens wrote:Dei morti parla bene


+1

let's show some respect.
User avatar Cobblestones
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25 May 2009 23:02

Cobblestones wrote:+1

let's show some respect.


agreed

Image

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=66iXTQio7wk

as said before, greatest climber i have ever seen, or ever will see.. uncomparable..
dimspace
 

25 May 2009 23:12

Pantani was a great cyclist - he filled the hearts of many with both joy and sadness.

Let the man rest
User avatar 180mmCrank
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26 May 2009 01:26

For what it's worth, I never understood the Pantani fanboy thing either.

I think it probably goes under the same heading as most tribal plumage - "I wish to define myself as a roadie cyclist -> within which cult there are certain truths we all hold as self-evident -> one of which is that pink is cool, another that Pantani was a tragic hero, no discussion need be entered into, you just 'get it'."

Nothing against the guy, obviously he was a talented cyclist who struggled with some of the same demons so many people do, but in some ways I find the tribal heroworship disrespectful of the actual human being involved (because I suspect it's driven largely by fashion), as well as disrespectful to some of the other human beings who shared the road with him and are forgotten or worse.
yourwelcome
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26 May 2009 01:32

Rest in Peace Elefantino!
User avatar allthree
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26 May 2009 02:07

Dear yourwelcome,
Thanks!
the delgados
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