Marco Pantani

Marco Pantani (13 January 1970 – 14 February 2004) was an Italian road racing cyclist, widely considered one of the best climbers of his era in professional road bicycle racing. He won both the Tour de France and the Giro d'Italia in 1998, being the first Italian since Felice Gimondi in 1965 to win the Tour de France. He is the last cyclist to win the Giro and the Tour in the same year.

His attacking style and aggressive riding turned him into a fan favorite in the late 1990s. He was known as 'Il Pirata' because of his shaved head and the bandana and earrings he always wore. At 1.72 m and 57 kg, Marco Pantani had the classic build for a mountain climber. His style contrasted with that of time-trialling experts such as the five-times Tour winner Miguel Indurain.

Although he never tested positive, his career was beset by doping allegations. In the 1999 Giro d'Italia, he was expelled due to his irregular blood values. Although he was disqualified for "health reasons", it was implied that Pantani's high haematocrit was the product of EPO use. Following later accusations, Pantani went into a depression from which he never fully recovered. He died of acute cocaine poisoning in 2004.

Read more about Marco Pantani:  Death, Legacy, Alleged Drug Use