Rapha is nothing if not nostalgic. The U.K.-based road cycling apparel maker has a keen sense of cycling history, as witnessed by the “Inside Story” patches sewn into nearly every piece of clothing it makes. This quartet of jerseys goes a step further, commemorating two of the sport’s most famous — and in one case infamous — riders, Eddy Merckx and Marco Pantani.
This Giro d’Italia-inspired pink-hued lightweight special edition Pantani tribute jersey was recently released to honor the 10th anniversary of the star-crossed rider’s untimely death due in part to a cocaine overdose. Before Pantani succumbed to his inner demons, the lithe Italian was one of the sport’s greatest climbers, winning both the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France in 1998. Whether he did any of that without the assistance of PEDs is a debate for another day. What we can say is this is a superb summer weight jersey, and that proceeds from sales go to the Pantani Foundation, which supports youth sports.
Design details include a fast drying fabric that’s pattern was inspired by the graffiti of devoted fans, which can still be seen on many of the climbs where Pantani plied his trade. The jersey retails for $210 and comes with a pink bandana, another tribute to Il Pirata. Other highlights include breathable mesh side panels, three rear pockets, plus an internal zip pocket, and three logos, each representing a piece of Pantani’s life. More info at www.rapha.cc
Going further back in the bike racing time machine is Rapha’s new-for-2014 trio of polyester/merino wool-blend Trade Team jerseys ($220), which focus on 1974, the year Merckx won his fifth and final Giro d’Italia. The Belgian great, riding for Molteni, saw great challenge from Gianbattista Baronchelli, riding for the SCiC team. After a hard fought three weeks, Merckx eked out a 12-second triumph over the young Italian, which remains the smallest winning margin in the race’s long history. Fellow Italian, and then world champion Felice Gimondi (Bianchi-Campagnolo), was third.
Each rider’s commemorative jersey has several embroideries, including their race number on the back and nickname on the front (which mimic the sponsor logos of each team). Other features include three rear pockets, plus a zip pocket and drawstring hem with gripper elastic. Cut is club fit. More info at www.rapha.cc