The beauty of fatigue and the thrill of conquest

The 1998 edition of the Tour was fundamentally shattered by doping. The entire Festina team had to withdraw from the race and it often seemed unlikely the race could even make it to Paris.

Marco Pantani, the incredible Italian climber, gave some dignity back to the race, revealing his passionate love for the thrill of conquest. In June, he had taken an "exceptionally impressive" overall victory at the Giro and kept a low-profile attitude in the early stages of the Tour, as if the pink jersey had fully satisfied him. The defending champion Ullrich dominated the first part of the race and Pantani was expectd only to perform some nice stage victories. The perfect day to write the story, however, comes to Pantani on the Galibier. Despite cold temperatures, rain and fog and with 6 km remaining to the summit of the Galibier, Pantani made the decisive move of the race. Ullrich faltered together with all the Telekom team; the advantage was consistent but on the final climb to Les Deux Alpes, Pantani sealed an insurmountable lead of over 8 minutes. Ullrich attacked again on the Col de la Madeleine the very next day, with only Pantani able to follow, achieving a spectacular Giro-Tour double.

Giancarlo Brocci