The bike used by Marco Pantani at the 2000 Tour de France when he beat Lance Armstrong to win atop Mont Ventoux is for sale via auction in Italy, with an estimated auction price of between €25,000-30,000.
The Bianchi bike, plus a similar bike Pantani used at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, several autographed jerseys, trophies and cycling paintings, will be auctioned on December 9 in Milan and via the internet. The auction will be held by the Aste Bolaffi auction house as part of a sport memorabilia auction.
All the bikes and objects come from the Mercatone Uno museum. The Italian home goods chain sponsored Pantani’s for much of his career but has recently gone into bankruptcy.
Bolaffi says the two Pantani bikes were used in 2000 and then donated to Mercatone Uno.
The first was for the Tour de France, where Pantani famously attacked with Lance Armstrong on Mont Ventoux and where he also won the stage to Courchevel, before eventually abandoning the race with stomach problems. It is black and celeste but also has touches of pink to match the Mercatone Uno pink colours that replaced the usual yellow to avoid clashing with the race leader’s yellow jersey.
Armstrong has always claimed he was much stronger on the climb to Mont Ventoux and gifted Pantani the stage but that only worsened their already tense relationship.
“So much of that hostility came down to what happened on the Ventoux in 2000,” Armstrong told Cyclingnews in 2014 on the 10th anniversary of Pantani’s death.
“I'm not here to glorify anything, everyone knows what happened that day, but we were at the head of the race and trading pulls. I told him, in my shitty Italian, 'you can have the win'. He thought I was saying 'you need to go faster'. My Italian was so bad though, I could have been saying anything, but we were going plenty fast enough, believe me. What happened that day didn't help things, and from there on things were never the same.”
The second bike was made for the Sydney Olympics for the summer of 2000 when Pantani’s name ensured him a place in the five-rider Italian team for the road race alongside Michele Bartoli, Paolo Bettini, Dailo di Luca and Francesco Casagrande.
Jan Ullrich won the gold medal with then Telekom teammates Alexandre Vinokourov and Andres Kloden completing the podium. The second bike is also estimated to be sold at between €25,000-30,000.
The other objects include a yellow jersey from the 1998 Tour de France and two pink jerseys from the Giro d’Italia autographed by Pantani.
Pantani died on February 14, 2004, after barricading himself in a hotel room in Rimini under the effects of cocaine and antidepressants.
The winner of the 1998 Giro d'Italia and Tour de France suffered greatly with substance abuse and mental health-related problems following his disqualification from the 1999 Giro d'Italia due to a high blood haematocrit.
Pantani's mother has always defended her son's honour while admitting that he may have used blood-boosting EPO during his career. Tonina hired high-profile Italian lawyer Antonio De Rensis to investigate all the circumstances of Pantani's death and managed to spark a new investigation in 2014 that was fuelled by media reports in Italy that played on the heartstrings of Pantani's enduring popularity among the tifosi.