Pantani’s fans plan Alpe protest

The Tour may be honouring the late Marco Pantani at Alpe d'Huez on Tuesday, but Pantani's fans won't

The Tour may be honouring the late Marco Pantani at Alpe d’Huez on Tuesday, but Pantani’s fans won’t

PICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE Wednesday’s eagerly anticipated mountain time trial to the Alpe d’Huez, officially dedicated to Marco Pantani, will also play host to an angry protest by the late Pirate’s fans against the Tour de France organisation. Five months after Pantani’s death from a cocaine overdose, a group of the Italian’s die-hard supporters will distribute leaflets amongst record crowds of up to one million people on the Alpe. They intention is to condemn the “hypocrisy of the Tour organisers.” A two-time winner on the Alpe, in 1995 and 1997, Pantani was acrimoniously declined an invitation to the Tour in both 2001 and 2003, a double disappointment to which the climber referred in the scribbled notes which were his final legacy. This alone was enough, it seems, for the Pantani’s fans to spy blood on the hands of Tour boss Jean-Marie Leblanc. The leaflet reads as follows: “Today’s gesture of dedicating today’s stage to Marco doesn’t erase the outrage of having prevented him from riding the Tour de France in 2001 and 2003. Races are made by champions (they are not the property of organisers) and champions have the right to participate even when they can’t win. THE WAR ON DOPING CAN’T BE FOUGHT BY CRIMINALISING A CHAMPION. One of the reasons why Marco died is the continual, five-year long, assassination of his dignity, his talent and his pride. “Marco honoured the Tour de France with his exploits every time that he participated. The organisers of the Tour have excluded him from the race he loved, wounding deeply. Hypocrisy kills, let’s put an end to it.”