Bianchi has launched a new edition of its Specialissima frameset to mark the 20th anniversary of Marco Pantani’s victory at Oropa on the 1999 Giro d’Italia. The frameset featured the same black and yellow livery used by Pantani on the stage, with celeste flourishes provided by the Bianchi decals and handlebar tape.
The paintjob on the 2019 Specialissima thus mirrors that on Pantani’s 1999 Mega Pro Concept bike. The frameset also includes a special graphic on the shoulder of the fork blade to commemorate Pantani’s win.
Pantani famously won at Oropa in the maglia rosa despite dropping his chain at the base of the climb. By the time he adjusted his machine and remounted, he was some 30 seconds off the pace, but he proceeded to pick his way through the field to claim the stage honours. Pantani passed Laurent Jalabert in the final 3km to win the stage by 21 seconds.
Pantani looked poised to win a second successive Giro in 1999, claiming four mountain stages along the way, but he was excluded from the race in ahead of the penultimate stage after returning an elevated haematocrit count in a blood test at Madonna di Campiglio.
The Madonna di Campiglio episode marked the beginning of the end of Pantani’s career. Although he returned to win two stages of the Tour de France in 2000, he was dogged by allegations of doping and never again challenged for overall victory in a Grand Tour. Pantani died in Rimini on 14 February, 2004 due. A second autopsy in 2014 confirmed that Pantani died from an acute heart attack brought on by a mixture of medicinal drugs and cocaine.