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18th STAGE OF THE GIRO CANCELLEDrollo tommassi
Jun 7, 2001 8:18 AM
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Giro to continue, Pantani may drop outDINOSAUR
Jun 7, 2001 10:44 AM
Pantani's futuremike mcmahon
Jun 7, 2001 10:56 AM
I don't know the specifics of Pantani's arrangements with Mercatone, but this may signal the end of Pantani's tumultuous career. In addition to his abandonment of this year's Giro, we can add last year's problems in the Giro and Tour, lack of invitation to this year's Tour, increasing age, and continuing legal problems, and it all just may lead Pantani to pack it in for good. His last "big" win was Ventoux at last year's Tour and the post-stage pissing match between Pantani and Armstong probably tarnished that victory a bit. Bagging the Giro at this point may be the last straw. Any other thoughts?
100% agreedlonefrontranger
Jun 7, 2001 11:11 AM
... aside from the fact that I always thought of Pantani as an arrogant, deformed evil little dwarf? He reminds me of the evil dwarf in "City of the Lost Children" if you ever saw it (obscure French flick).

Barring further mishaps I look to Casagrande and/or Garzelli (if he's scheduled to appear) to be this year's possible TDF "spoilers".

Despite prior remarks, I'm really hoping Jan U. will arrive in form. He's an incredibly talented rider and I'd like to see him win at least once more before he gets disgusted with the German media and packs it in.
How about Cuckoo's Nest?mike mcmahon
Jun 7, 2001 10:15 PM
I never saw the French movie, but Pantani's looks (after he shaved his head) remind me of the bald guy with big ears who was in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. He was in a host of other movies (usually horror flicks) and, if I remember correctly, some cheesy music videos.

I'd like to see Casagrande shake things up at the Tour this year. He's hot for a big victory and although I doubt that he can give Armstrong a run for his money in the long-run, he may keep things interesting. The more I think about things, the more likely it seems that Armstong will repeat. A repeat all but ensures that he'll return next year, intent on being the first U.S. rider to win four Tours. With that under his belt, he may be intent on matching or beating Indurain's five consecutive Tour mark. But, then again, who knows? A few years ago, Bobby Julich was the great hope for the U.S. Things change quickly in pro cycling.

Let's just hope for an exciting and scandal-free Tour this year.

Pantani's future or lack there of...PaulCL
Jun 7, 2001 11:35 AM
Generally, I agree with you. The big "win" on the Ventoux last year was questionable at best...did Lance let him have the stage?? Hence the ensuing pissing match.

For me, Pantani was always a cheater. He hasn't been able to perform up to his past "norm" since he got caught with a hematocrit hyped up by EPO. With his age, his tiff with his team, his drug problems, and/or lack of drugs, will probably force his to give it up. I'll bet that he hooks up with another team next year and gives the TDF and GIRO another go..
Another problemmike mcmahon
Jun 7, 2001 11:52 AM
I've got to say that I was a big fan of Pantani when he worked so hard to recover from the devastating leg injury he sustained in the collision with a car. However, much of his subsequent career seems to be more about image-building than winning. He won the Tour in the year it was tainted by the "Festina Affair." Since then, marketing of "Il Pirata" seems to be the primary goal. Sure he has shown flashes of brilliance, but he has also suffered his share of ignominious failures. If he does decide to hang on and compete, I hope he does it with the intention of winning rather than squeezing the last few lira out of his self-made Pirate image.
He won the Courchevel stage @TdF after Mt. Ventoux (nm)mmaggi
Jun 7, 2001 12:11 PM
Give that man a cigar!mike mcmahon
Jun 7, 2001 12:30 PM
My faulty memory told me that Pantani went back to Italy with his tail between his legs right after Ventoux. However, mmaggi is right; Pantani took Courcheval. Last year's Tour web site referred to it as the "Pantani Renaissance" (ha ha).
Re: 100% AgreedJon Billheimer
Jun 7, 2001 1:29 PM
I like LFR's characterization of Pantani as an "evil little dwarf". He quit last year's TdF on the eve of "drug testing day" citing intestinal problems. Marco without the aid of EPO is a 2nd tier pro with an overdeveloped ego. He does not belong in the same paceline with the likes of Armstrong, Ullrich, Beloki, et al.
Re: 100% Agreedbartali
Jun 7, 2001 1:39 PM
Bullocks as the Brits say.

All you Pantani bashers forget that it was he who saved the 1998 Tour de France as Leblanc went to him and pleaded with him to save the Tour.

Did all of you forget all those teams that pulled out due to the doping? Why didn't Mercatone-Uno/Bianchi pull out? Why didn't Pantani come up with an EPO of over 50% or non-negative in a doping test???

And if you Lance Armstrong and Jan Ullrich fans think these guys are that much better then we should expect either of them to win Giro and Tour in the same year as Marco Pantani did in 1998.

Giro and Tour in the same year. Only Merckx, Coppi, Anquetil, Hinault, Roche and Indurain did that.
It's actually "bollocks"MikeC
Jun 7, 2001 1:46 PM
...which refers to the gonads, not a young male bovine.
I like Pantani. In defense of my cheeky hero.9WorCP
Jun 7, 2001 3:47 PM
The guy's a prima donna and controversial for sure but honestly who's more a exciting climber than Pantani. In last year's TDF his attacks (successful or not) were genuinely spectacular. If it wasn't for the Big Tex v. Elephantino fireworks would the TDF been nearly as sweet. I like his off-road antics as well. Remember that car wreck he got into where he bashed up something like 8 or 9 different cars? He wasn't even drunk. He was just driving. COLORFUL! You guys like who you want but I'd much rather hear about Pantani's trials and tribulations than a real bore like Ullrich whose biggest controversy is is waistline. Snore. I didn't see him light up any races last year either, except the Olympics, and he had a couple trade mates w/ him in the final break. Pantani's demise is professional cycling's loss. The sport needs superstars, it needs its characters. God help us if all cycling offers its fans is a bunch of earnest grinds like Casagrandes and Vainstains.
I agree about adding colormike mcmahon
Jun 7, 2001 7:03 PM
The major Tours would indeed (and will) suffer without the likes of Pantani and Cipollini. As I said before, he does still show occasional flashes of brilliance, but they now seem to be interspersed with longer periods of mediocrity and frequent abandonment with "health" problems. Typically, these problems seem to arise after Il Pirata is out of GC contention. There will always be someone to step in and liven things up: someone to fill the personality vacuum. Remember Chiapucci? Cycling has always and will always have its share of colorful characters. Unfortunately, many of them seem to crash and burn without living up to their potential: e.g., Frank Vandenbroucke. However, IMHO, the cycling world will remember the "boring" champions like Indurain long after Pantani is an answer on the "European Cycle Racing Edition" of Trivial Pursuit.
You Have To Wonder...StewK
Jun 7, 2001 2:14 PM
You have to wonder, why did they do the drug search on the evening before Stage 18? Why didn't they do it Monday night since Tuesday was a "rest" day?

I hate conspiracy theories, but it does seem just a little suspicious. I heard the broadcast commentators say that last year they didn't have a stage that had as much hardcore climbing as this year's 18th, and several teams complained. Eliminating the 18th stage definitely hurts some of the stronger climbers, especially Simoni (sp) who they said was hoping to increase his :15 lead during this stage. And Cycling News quoted some cop telling the riders last night not to worry about having their sleep disrupted since there wasn't going to be a Stage 18.

Whether the scheduling of the search was intentional or not, it certainly was bad planning, especially for viewers like me who were looking forward to this stage.
You Have To Wonder...Mel Erickson
Jun 7, 2001 3:04 PM
From a fans point of view it was bad planning. From the police point of view it was perfect timing. As someone in a different thread said it was probably timed just before the hardest stage because that's when the riders needed the most "help". Doesn't make sense to raid when drugs are not as likely to be present. The most likely time was the evening before. Viola!