Historic Overview Marco Pantani
Marco Pantani (Italian pronunciation: [ˈmarko panˈtaːni]; 13 January 1970 – 14 February 2004) was an Italian road racing cyclist, widely regarded as the greatest climbing specialist in the history of the sport by measures of his legacy, credits from other riders, and records. He recorded the fastest ever climbs up the Tour's iconic venues of Mont Ventoux (46:00) and Alpe d'Huez (36:50), and other cyclists including Lance Armstrong and Charly Gaul have hailed Pantani's climbing skills. He is the last rider and only one of seven to ever win the Tour de France – Giro d'Italia double, doing so in 1998. He is the sixth of seven Italians, after Ottavio Bottecchia, Gino Bartali, Fausto Coppi, Gastone Nencini and Felice Gimondi, and before Vincenzo Nibali to win the Tour de France.
Pantani's cycling style was off-the-saddle, and was a relentless climbing style. His early death caused by acute cocaine poisoning in 2004 has further turned the cyclist into a popular icon. The narrative has been cultivated by Pantani, who picked the nickname "Il Pirata" (English: "The Pirate") because of his shaven head and the bandana and earrings he wore. At 1.72 metres (5.6 ft) and 57 kilograms (126 lb), he was said to have the classic build for a mountain climber. His style has been contrasted with that of time-trialling experts such as the five-times Tour winner Miguel Induráin.
Although Pantani never tested positive during his career, his career was beset by doping allegations. In the 1999 Giro d'Italia, he was expelled due to his irregular blood values. Although he was disqualified for "health reasons", it was implied that Pantani's high haematocrit was the product of EPO use. Following later accusations, Pantani went into a severe depression from which he never fully recovered, ultimately leading to his death in 2004.