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
Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.
Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.
Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.
The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.