We’re all aware of the sad demise of ‘il Pirata’, a sporting tragedy that’s so extreme you’d think it was a movie script.
From the incredible feat of winning the Giro and Le Tour in the same year (1998) and being hailed as the saviour of the Tour de France after it’d been torn apart by the Festina scandal, to a debated and suspicious exclusion from the 1999 Giro, which led in no small part to his decline as a rider and a person, concluding tragically with his death on Valentine’s Day 2004 surrounded by rumour and truths of his cocaine addiction.
Until this book, that’s pretty much all we knew of Pantani’s demise, but this is where Manuela Ronchi has put her side of the story forward.
She was Marco Pantani’s personal manager for five years and a close friend, and it’s this intimacy that really shines through in Man on the Run. Ronchi obviously had great affection and admiration for Marco; and the struggle she and his family and friends went through to try and pull him out of the mire is both moving and clouded with tragedy (as we know the outcome).
Where Man on the Run lifts itself beyond a standard cycling biography is the insiders’ view of the machinations and politics of professional cycling. You get a real sense of (excuse the pun) how the wheels turn in the big money world of the grand tours and governing bodies, yet at no time is it a dry and emotionless account, with the Italian temperament of those involved never far from the surface.
In all, Man on the Run is a great read with inspiring accounts of Pantani being a racer who wore his heart on his sleeve and where willpower always took precedence over tactics.