Cyclist Marco Pantani's funeral draws thousands of mourners in Italy

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  1. Cyclist Marco Pantani's funeral draws thousands of mourners in Italy

    Canadian Press

    Wednesday, February 18, 2004

    CESENATICO, Italy (AP) - Thousands of mourners, ranging from sports stars to simple neighbours, bid
    a final farewell to Marco Pantani on Wednesday at the funeral for the hugely popular Italian cyclist
    who was tormented by doping allegations in the last few years.

    Haunting notes that Pantani wrote in his passport were read aloud during the funeral service by his
    friend and manager Manuela Ronchi. "For four years I've been in every court, I just lost my desire
    to be like all the other sportsmen," the note said. "But cycling has paid and many youngsters have
    lost their faith in justice."

    Another section read: "All my colleagues have been humiliated, with TV cameras hidden in their hotel
    rooms to try and ruin families. How could you not hurt yourself after that?"

    Pantani's entire Mercatone Uno team, national cycling coach Franco Ballerini, retired skier Alberto
    Tomba, former national soccer coach Azeglio Vicini and a host of cyclists were among the mourners.

    About 20,000 people gathered inside and, mostly, outside the small church in this Adriatic town for
    the service.

    Former world champion Mario Cipollini, current world champion Igor Astarloa and soccer great Diego
    Armando Maradona streamed past Pantani's casket before the funeral.

    Pantani, 34, was found dead on the floor of his room at an apartment-hotel in the Adriatic resort
    city of Rimini late Saturday. An autopsy showed he had died from severe swelling from buildup of
    fluid in his brain and lungs, although the cause is still unclear.

    About 10 bottles of tranquilizers of four different brands were found in the room.

    Pantani's sudden death shocked Italy, prompting an outpouring of grief for one of Italy's most
    beloved and troubled sports stars.

    Since his death, a fierce debate has been waged in Italian media regarding the pressures that
    Pantani faced from the press and the doping accusations he faced.

    Cesenatico was draped with dozens of banners paying tribute to the 1998 Tour de France and Giro
    d'Italia winner. Many mourners wore a bandanna around their arms in memory of the one Pantani wore
    on his bald head - a fashion statement which, along with his earring, earned him the nickname of "il
    pirata," "the pirate."

    Town official Michele Fiumi estimated that about 3,000 people had gone by Pantani's casket, leaving
    flowers and notes or silently praying. The flow of people, which started when the casket was put on
    display in the San Giacomo Apostolo church Tuesday afternoon, continued relentlessly through the
    night, he said.

    The funeral was held in the same church, which holds about 300 people. Town officials set up
    speakers outside the church for mourners who couldn't fit inside.

    Pantani had suffered from depression in the past, but prosecutors have played down the possibility
    of suicide - a widespread speculation in the Italian media. Authorities said they will not be drawn
    out on the cause until the investigation is completed.

    Further tests to determine the cause of the fluid accumulation are expected to take about two weeks.

    Tormented by doping accusations in recent seasons, Pantani spent several weeks in a clinic
    specializing in treatment for depression and drug addiction last summer.

    © Copyright 2004 The Canadian Press
     
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  2. I were at the funeral and i think it's more human just say: many people many tears.

    Fede
     
  3. On Fri, 20 Feb 2004 22:09:41 GMT, Savini Federico <[email protected]>
    wrote:

    >I were at the funeral and i think it's more human just say: many people many tears.

    Requiescat in pace.

    He finished the longest Earthly climb alone.

    Heaven's Alps will meet their match.
     
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