Cycling is less a sport, more a means to transcendence through assured self-destruction. Perhaps the man who best embodies this paradox was Italian cyclist Marco Pantani. In 1998 he won the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France (and feat never matched since) but just six years later he was found dead in a seedy motel room from acute cocaine poisoning.
James Erskine’s film attempts to get inside this visceral world via the prism of the heroic Pantani, a man more loved than any cyclist in living memory. He was loved for the way he would attack hills and leave anybody and everybody for dead – often he raced so hard he could taste blood in his mouth (a taste that after this film we will think we know). He’s also loved for the comeback from what should have been a career ending accident that left him with one leg shorter than the other and with doctors saying he would never race again.