In February 2004, Marco Pantani was found dead in a hotel room in Rimini. The 34-year-old climbing specialist was a Tour de France and Giro d'Italia champion, but his career was blighted by doping allegations. Pantani was the last man to win the Tour before Lance Armstrong embarked on his record-equalling victories, but his career went into free-fall when he was ejected from the 1999 Giro while in the lead after failing a test for the use of performance-enhancing drugs. Thanks to her close rapport with Pantini's family, Manuela Ronchi has been able to tie together the loose ends of his story to loyally reconstruct the life of the champion. From his childhood discovery of cycling to the triumphs, losses, and scandal that accompanied the sporting personality, here is the full, intimate, authentic and personal story of Pantani's remarkable career.
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Manuela Ronchi was Pantani's manager, friend and confidente for five years. Gianfranco Josti is a sports journalist on Italy's 'Corriere della Sera'
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