Well what a week in cycling.  With the Tour of Qatar and the Tour Méditerranéen underway, the anniversary of the death of one of cycling’s most flamboyant figures and the release of exerts from one of the countries most awaited autobiographies, there’s been plenty of action.  Here’s a snapshot of what went on in cycling this week…

 
The Death Of The Pirate:
Marco-pantani

Valentines day marked the tenth anniversary of the death of the pirate, Marco Pantani.  Pantani was an Italian cyclist widely considered one of the best climbers in professional cycling. 

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.

A flamboyant and colorful character, he raced with style and was often leading the charge up some of Europe’s largest mountains.  He was a favorite with both fans and riders alike and people were compelled by him and the way in which he flew up mountains.

In a recent interview, Lance Armstrong gave an in-depth interview on his troubled and controversial relationship with Pantani.  Armstrong was quoted as saying “On the bike he was a quiet guy though. There weren’t these huge gestures or flamboyance, like you had with other Italians, because Marco was a rider who would do his talking when and where it matted. On the climbs, out of the saddle, and with the bunch busting a gut just to stay with him.”

Armstrong went on to say: [quote_box_center]I remember how he used to be surrounded by his entire team in the peloton, almost to the point where it was annoying. We did some of that too, but his teammates were very protective of him and if you came anywhere near him you’d get the wrath of his entire squad. But style-wise he was smooth, efficient of course, and just so, so explosive. He had the ability to detonate a race and, as a rival, as another member of the peloton, you had to accept and respect his ability.[/quote_box_center]

Pantani was found dead of a cocaine overdose in a hotel room in Rimini, Italy.  Despite dominating in an era of chronic drug use in the sport, Pantani will be remembered for his amazing character and attacking ability.

Tour Of Qatar:

The six stage Tour of Qatar took place this week, as teams continue to use the warmer weather in Asia to prepare for the up and coming European classics.  Dutchman, Niki Terpstra (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) enjoyed an untroubled final day in the gold jersey and safely crossed the line in the main peloton to maintain his lead of 17 seconds over teammate Tom Boonen, while Jürgen Roelandts (Lotto-Belisol) – one of the week’s most impressive all-round performers – took the third step on the podium, a further three seconds back.

 
O’Grady Autobiography:

Stuart O’Grady has outlined the details of his anxious ’98 Tour de France in his autobiography titled Battle Scars.  O’Grady says he was “terrified” by the prospect of being arrested by French police in the wake of the Festina Affaire at the ’98 Tour de France, and was rattled throughout the race after taking banned blood booster EPO before the race’s Grand Depart in Ireland.

[quote_box_center]”I know there are people who question whether I doped later in my career, but having witnessed the events of that Tour, I knew that to do it again I would have to be insane,” O’Grady writes.[/quote_box_center]

“Watching Festina happen. Watching events unfold on TV was the final straw. To say I was scared is an understatement, I was petrified. I had a vial of EPO in my bag and guys were getting arrested.”In a stellar career spanning two decades, O’Grady is an Olympic Gold medalist who wore the yellow jersey at the 1998 Tour de France, as well as winning Stage 14 of the race to Grenoble. This followed his famous victory in the 2007 Paris-Roubaix.  Regarded as one of Australia’s all time greats, this cracking read is set to be released in early March.

Commonwealth Games Route Released:

This years Glasgow Commonwealth Games will see riders race through the heart of the mythical city.  With both time trials and a road race to take place, the course is the same as the one used for the 2013 British Cycling National Championships which Mark Cavendish won.

The time trials will be contested on Thursday 31 July with the road races taking place on Sunday 3 August.The time trial, 40km for men and 30km for women, will start and finish at Glasgow Green with a single loop course taking in the great countryside of East Dunbartonshire and North Lanarkshire as well as the city’s East End.

4399_commgamestt-500

The women will complete seven laps of the course (98km) while the men will tackle the course 12 times (168km). Racing for the Isle of Man, Cavendish is keen to add a Commonwealth Gold to his medal collection.

1566_commgamesrr-500Around The Cog:
Did you know that Marco Pantani won both the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France in 1998 and is the last cyclist to win the Giro and the Tour in the same year.Pedal Hard…
Haydn Thomas: haydn@pedaltorque.com
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Haydn has been bitten by the cycling bug and bitten hard. Like most Aussie kids, he grew up riding his beloved chrome BMX before moving onto a Mountain Bike. Haydn describes his transition onto a road bike as a Renaissance and since that time has never looked back. If not riding the awesome roads of Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, Haydn can often be found photographing local cycling events. As Pedaltorque co-founder, Haydn is responsible for editing and photography. He rides a Specialized Tarmac.