Born January 13 1970, died February 14 2004. His feral grimace lives on in the back of my mind, and his tragic death, alone on Valentine's day, a broken, poisoned, sad man, still makes me wince at our hypocrisy towards drugs. The great footballer Maradona said we were all guilty, and complicit in his death!
As drugs take a far greater part in climbing (Pantini was the greatest mountain climber of all time) when are we going to wake up. Recently an Italian climbing friend said that he got out of cycling because it was too pharmaceutical at an early age, only to be completely shocked to see what was going on in climbing. I personally was a great fan of maestro Pantani, as I was in no doubt that he was on more than porridge.
He was the last guy to win the Tour de France and the Giro d'Italia in the same year. Valentine's day has never been the same for me, since the death of the Pirati. My bikes are covered in cobwebs, the tires are rotting, a bit like my ice axes really.