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1998 Tour de France

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Pantani's vintage year

Italian hero inspire new dishes and premier's culinary advice

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Posted: Tuesday September 22, 1998 04:18 PM

ROME (CNN/SI) - It's eat, drink and be merry -- all in the name of Marco Pantani.

Italy is celebrating Pantani, it's latest sporting hero with wines and recipes all named after the cyclist.

A wine shop in Alessandria, northern Italy, dedicated a Piedmont wine after Pantani.

Italian premier Romano Prodi had some culinary advice for Pantani on Sunday.

"I ask him to construct his future victories continuing to, above all, nourish himself with the 'piadin' that his mother in Cesenatico [an Adriatic resort town] prepared for him almost since his birth," Premier Prodi said as Pantani pedaled his way to Italy's first Tour de France victory in 33 years.

A 'piadina' is a sandwich specialty from Prodi's and Pantani's native region, Emilia Romagna, in north-central Italy. The sandwich consists of round, unleavened bread, usually stuffed with ham or cheese.

Prodi has something else in common with Pantani besides roots -- the premier is an avid cyclist.

Prodi praised Pantani as an "athlete who made us relive the legendary feats of great cycling of the past."

"I dare to think that Emilia-Romagna cooking has had a great role in this victory," Prodi wrote in Sunday's Corriere della Sera.

In Cesnatico, a banner on a building read "Pantani flies high." Some 2,000 people took to bicycles in the town's streets to celebrate the hometown man's victory.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.