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The Death of Marco Pantani

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For anyone looking to read a surprisingly gripping (if not exactly holiday-festive) book, I might recommend The Death of Marco Pantani by Matt Rendell. It's much more than a cobbled together set of old articles with some flowery prose; Rendell conducts numerous detailed interviews with members of Pantani's family and other prominent figures in his life to paint a very detailed picture of a psychologically fragile but incredibly talented cyclist.

If nothing else, reading about the up-and-coming Pantani is a reminder that even those characters who are most tarnished with PEDs at the Pro Tour level were still devastating riders from start to finish. It's also interesting to read about his effect on Italy, something of interest to me. Honestly, I wasn't paying great attention to cycling during his heyday, and never did appreciate him much. He's assumed to be a doper but his case was never clear. I'm only up to 1996 (don't ruin the ending! Wait, the title already does) so maybe I'll understand his case better in a few days. Anyway, it's a good stocking stuffer for the tifosa/tifoso in your family.