In 1998 Marco Pantani, the most flamboyant and popular cyclist of his era, won both the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia – a titanic feat of physical and mental endurance that no rider has repeated since. He was a hero to millions and was the saviour of professional cycling following the doping scandals which threatened to destroy the sport. However, less than six years later, aged just 34, he died alone, in a cheap Italian hotel room.
This film is not just about cycling but an emotional exploration of what drives athletes to compete; man versus mountain, athlete versus the system, Marco Pantani versus himself.
Well, that’s what it says on the tin and to be honest, it’s an eye opening film. Where I felt it let itself down was that it was neither unbiased, nor did it take one side. Because of that, the statement that could have been made about corruption and money in sport, was lost in a sea of conjecture.
In the end, I was neither convinced he was duped by The Man, nor convinced of his innocence. So all in all, a chance to make a statement missed. That said, would I take on the Italian Mafia?
Verdict: An excellent film but a somewhat wishy-washy statement ***
This film will be shown at The Harbour Club, Portscatho on Tuesday 1st July