We don’t want to dampen everyone’s excitement over the Tour de France, but it’s worth remembering that the sheer mental toughness required for cycling isn’t gifted to everyone, and no recent rider demonstrates that better than tragic Italian climber Marco Pantani. The movie Pantani: The Accidental Death of a Cyclist is still screening at selected venues and well worth a couple of hours of your time.
Marco Pantani died of cocaine poisoning in 2004 after sliding from the heights of winning the Tour and the Giro in the same year in 1998. Beset by constant rumours of drug use, and feeling he had been abandoned by the sport he loved, Pantani fell into depression and despite several comeback attempts never regained the form that had brought him glory.
Pantani: The Accidental Death of a Cyclist is a sympathetic but not hagiographic telling of the Pantani story. Our reviewer Dan Kenyon said: “Based on Matt Rendell’s exhaustive biography and with fine commentary from both Rendell, with his precise and sad delivery, and the crisp, no nonsense school master style of Richard Williams, the triumph and ultimate tragedy of Pantani’s career is delivered in a tight and lean 96 minutes.”
While you can buy the film on DVD, nothing compares to seeing a cycling movie on the big screen. Pantani: The Accidental Death of a Cyclist is in the middle of a limited run of cinema showings. You can catch it at the following dates and venues:
July 4 onwards: Curzon, Ripon
July 5: Picturehouse, York
July 4–7: Film Theatre, Glasgow
July 4–10: Chapter, Cardiff
July 6: Brewery Art, Kendall
July 7 & 30: The Regal, Melton
July 7: Saffron Screen, Saffron Walden
July 7 & 9: Ultimate Picture Palace, Oxford
July 9-10: National Media Museum, Bradford
July 11 onwards: Arts Centre, Plymouth
July 12: Broadway, Nottingham
July 15: Hathersage (Cycle To The Cinema Event), Moorlands Discovery Centre
July 21: Pavilion, Halisham
July 21: David Lean Cinema, Halisham
July 27 & 31: Eden Court, Halisham
July 27 & 31: Eden Court, Inverness
John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.
He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.
Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc founder Tony Farrelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.
John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.
He joined road.cc in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.