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Retro Giro d'Italia: Marco Pantani on the Mortirolo - Gallery

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Marco Pantani on the Passo del Mortirolo at the 1994 Giro d'Italia

Marco Pantani on the Passo del Mortirolo at the 1994 Giro d'Italia
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Pantani signs autographs ahead of the stage start

Pantani signs autographs ahead of the stage start
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Pre-race interviews

Pre-race interviews
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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And pre-race fan photos

And pre-race fan photos
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Pantani and Indurain shake hands before the race

Pantani and Indurain shake hands before the race
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Marco Pantani was a picture of quiet focus before the stage

Marco Pantani was a picture of quiet focus before the stage
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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The riders head to the Stelvio

The riders head to the Stelvio
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Franco Vona attacks on the Stelvo

Franco Vona attacks on the Stelvo
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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The famous Stelvio pass

The famous Stelvio pass
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Pantani attacks on the Mortirolo

Pantani attacks on the Mortirolo
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Marco Pantani alone on the Mortirolo

Marco Pantani alone on the Mortirolo
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Evgeni Berzin flailing on the Mortirolo

Evgeni Berzin flailing on the Mortirolo
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Franco Vona on the Mortirolo

Franco Vona on the Mortirolo
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Pantani heading for glory

Pantani heading for glory
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Miguel Indurain losing ground on the Mortirolo

Miguel Indurain losing ground on the Mortirolo
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Claudio Chiappucci in another group on the climb

Claudio Chiappucci in another group on the climb
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Berzin digs in

Berzin digs in
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Indurain tries to pace himself up the Mortirolo but Pantani is flying

Indurain tries to pace himself up the Mortirolo but Pantani is flying
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Indurain and Berzin as Pantani disappears up the road

Indurain and Berzin as Pantani disappears up the road
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Pantani crests the Mortirolo

Pantani crests the Mortirolo
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Pantani comes to the top of the climb

Pantani comes to the top of the climb
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Indurain over the top

Indurain over the top
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Indurain in difficulty

Indurain in difficulty
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Berzin tries to make up ground on the descent

Berzin tries to make up ground on the descent
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Berzin links up with Vona

Berzin links up with Vona
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Pantani waits and links up with Indurain and Nelson Rodriguez

Pantani waits and links up with Indurain and Nelson Rodriguez
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Berzin leads a chase group

Berzin leads a chase group
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Pantani following Indurain on the approach to the final climb

Pantani following Indurain on the approach to the final climb
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Pantani following Indurain on the approach to the final climb

Pantani following Indurain on the approach to the final climb
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Berzin and co slip further back

Berzin and co slip further back
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Pantani comes to the front as the final climb begins

Pantani comes to the front as the final climb begins
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Pantani comes to the front as the final climb begins

Pantani comes to the front as the final climb begins
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Pantani goes and Indurain is dropped

Pantani goes and Indurain is dropped
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Berzin makes up ground in the chase as the climb bites

Berzin makes up ground in the chase as the climb bites
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Pantani is just about away

Pantani is just about away
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Pantani raises his arms as he crosses the line

Pantani raises his arms as he crosses the line
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Victory for Marco Pantani

Victory for Marco Pantani
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Pantani raises his arms as he crosses the line

Pantani raises his arms as he crosses the line
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Pantani raises his arms as he crosses the line

Pantani raises his arms as he crosses the line
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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A famous day in the story of Marco Pantani

A famous day in the story of Marco Pantani
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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A dejected Indurain crosses the line 3:30 down

A dejected Indurain crosses the line 3:30 down
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Berzin ships 4:06

Berzin ships 4:06
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Berzin beyond the finish line

Berzin beyond the finish line
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Pantani at the finish

Pantani at the finish
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Pantani on the podium

Pantani on the podium
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Pantani all smiles as he laps up the home support

Pantani all smiles as he laps up the home support
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Pantani on the podium

Pantani on the podium
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Champagne for the stage winner

Champagne for the stage winner
(Image credit: Sirotti)

This year marks a couple of anniversaries in the story of Marco Pantani and the Giro d’Italia. If 1999, when he was expelled from the race after failing a hematocrit test, was his downfall, then 1994 and the Passo del Mortirolo was perhaps the birth of Il Pirata. A quarter of a century on, and with the Mortirolo set to feature on stage 16 of this year's Corsa Rosa, we've put together a selection of images, shot by Emanuele Sirotti, to look back on that famous day. 

Pantani had already won his first Giro stage the previous day, but it was on stage 15, from Merano to Aprica, that Pantani first took flight in that inimitable style of his.

He wouldn't win that year's Giro, but it was clear a star had been born, as he put Miguel Indurain, winner of the two previous editions of the Giro and the three previous editions of the Tours de France, to the sword. 

The 195km stage took in the mighty Stelvio pass, at nearly 3000m, and the final climb was the Santa Cristina, but it was on the Mortiolo where Pantani took off. As a measure of the legend of his attack there, a memorial to him can be found half-way up. 

Indurain had been the dominant force in Grand Tour racing, his victories built largely on huge gains in the time trials. While the Spaniard could more than hold his own in the mountains, he tended to grind his way up, whereas Pantani pedalled with almost effortless grace. The contrast was laid bare as he skipped up the Mortirolo, an 12.8km climb that averages more than 10 per cent. Indurain, along with the race leader Evgeni Berzin, fell away. 

Indurain dropped Berzin on the descent, and Pantani, alone in the valley, opted to wait for the Spaniard in order to try and inflict more damage on the maglia rosa. They worked as a trio with Nelson Rodriguez, as Berzin frantically led a chase group, including Pantani's more established teammate Claudio Chiappucci, behind. 

Pantani used Indurain to take him to the foot of the final climb, the Santa Cristina, where he attacked once again and soared clear. Indurain, normally so consistent, exploded. He was passed by Chiapucci and Wladimir Belli from the Berzin group, and rolled across the line some 3:30 down on Pantani. Berzin was next across the line at 4:06. 

Pantani would have to wait four years to win the Giro, but that day made his name, and ignited a flame that burned brightly but all too briefly. 

Click or swipe through the gallery above to relive it all.