Thank you to everyone who sent us an article explaining why Marco Pantani was an inspiration for them. After reading all of your submissions, we decided to publish James Layland's small exert on the way Marco shaped his teenage life. Like many of us, James found solace in what the pirate portrayed. What has always amazed us is the wide variety of inspiration Pantani was able to create, from the youngest aspiring cyclist to the adult struggling with their inner demons.
Please feel free to add your own experiences in the comments below and continue to get in touch about the ways in which Marco Pantani inspired you. We hope many more people can continue to find comfort in Il Pirata.
My Inspiration - James Layland
I was 4 in 1997 when I first saw Marco Pantani on the Telly, narrated by Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen. Pantani inspired me through to my early teens when I asked my parents for a new bike for my birthday. They took me to the local 'tatty' toy shop and said pick one. I said these are all totally wrong. I want a racer. I want to be as fast as Pantani. My Dad just laughed to himself as he was a marathon runner and 'got it'.
As I got older I trained hard, I was 6ft4 and rode up climbs in a 53x19 like it was nothing. Then I found alcohol and a full time job. I packed it in (stopped cycling) as sponsorship 15 years ago was sparse in comparison to what it is today.
If it wasn't for Marco, I'd probably be like many of my childhood friends, alcoholics with not much to show from their life. Marco may have lost his life, but he saved so many and gave so many such inspiration to fight and be the underdog.