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Thursday, 13 July, 2000, 17:18 GMT 18:18 UK
Brotherton's Tour moment
Marco Pantani on podium
Pantani celebrates his return to form
Radio 5 Live's Simon Brotherton reports from the windy summit of Mont Ventoux - and celebrates Marco Pantani's return to form.

My moment of Thursday's dramatic stage from Carpentras to Mont Ventoux was a toss-up between the huge crowds on the mountain, and the way Marco Pantani went up the steep road.

A reported 300,000 people were on the mountainside to watch the famous climb return to the Tour after a six-year absence.

It took us an hour-and-a-half just to drive the 21 kilometres, battling through the hordes.

Jan Ullrich in helicopter
Riders like Jan Ullrich left the mountain in helicopters
That in fact was longer than Pantani and the leaders managed to scale the mountain on their bikes.

We're just grateful that the organisers allowed race vehicles and the media to descend the other side.

Otherwise we would have probably waited until midnight to get down off the mountain. Some of the crowd were definitely set for a long stay as we left.

No panic

But despite those scenes the moment of the day has to be the way Pantani went up this amazing climb.

Dropped by the leading riders on the lower slopes of the 21km ascent he rode at his own pace and refused to panic. He was back in the first group around 6km from the summit.

Marco Pantani riding
Pantani suffered and then came back to the leaders
Not content with that, he attacked several times to win the stage alongside Lance Armstrong.

Pantani wasn't stronger than the American but after months in the wilderness dogged by doping allegations the little Italian, who won the Tour two years ago, has risen again.

The revival came just when people were wondering whether he still had the strength and class. He clearly has.


In DepthIN DEPTH
Tour de France
Final analysis of the world's top cycle race
See also:

13 Jul 00 | Tour de France
13 Jul 00 | Tour de France
13 Jul 00 | Tour de France
13 Jul 00 | Tour de France
11 Jul 00 | Tour de France
Links to more Tour de France stories are at the foot of the page.


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