Thoughts On Italian Style

Francesco Moser...
Grinta and style,
1979 Paris-Roubaix.

What is Italian cycling style?

I'm going to try to address this in three sections; Passion, Grinta and Style.


My first attempt at trying to understand Italian cycling was to totally immerse myself with my visit to Italy, in the eighties to be exact, to visit the famous frame builder Giovanni Pinarello. He was a hero in the Giro (won the maglia nera, 1951 Giro) and on an overcast November day, there he was the smiling shop keeper that greeted me. I was very fortunate to have the man himself as my tour guide - I think of it now as a surreal experience.

I remember clearly many steel frames hanging, some ready to ship to Asia and a few being crafted by a handful of highly skilled employees, under the supervision of Pinarello, liken to old-world artisans. I can understand the 'guild' of Italian craftsmanship creating desire, I had the privilege to see.

And, I surprised Signore Pinarello giving him a few trinkets from my Edmonton Velocity cycling club (i.e. cap and banner). I remember his genorosity returning the favor by gifting me a water bottle, sticker, Metaumobil team poster, cap and team t-shirt. He was certainly proud as one of Italy's top frame builders notably sponsoring a pro team. It's that - cycle racing is in the ethos of Italy. That is the Italian style of passion.

An example of the Italian 'guild' at work,
 Cicli Pinarello, 1985.
photo by Cyclingart

A few years after my memorable trip, I discovered and saved enough for a unique Canadian-made, Italian by heart - a Marinoni. Italian equipped; Columbus tubing, equipped with the legendary Campagnolo Nuovo Record gruppo, Cinelli stems/bars and FiR rims. I didn't know back then, but in those early days of my cycling discovery, my first cycling hero was frame builder, Giovanni Pinarello.


Determination is the hallmark of many Italian cycling stars. Coppi and Bartali had it and a host of others. And, who could ever forget, A Sunday in Hell of the 1976 Paris-Roubaix, Francesco Moser rode all day in the grime and dust keeping his national jersey remarkably clean. He was an Italian king of Roubaix, winning 3-times, dominating the toughest races. He always looked good, for example in the 1979 Paris-Roubaix he wore the iconic Sanson wool jersey, leather gloves and Campagnolo logoed shorts so well. He was made for cycling - riding with panache, an Italian cycling icon.


It's probably more revealing from an 'outsider' what Italian cycling style is. Good example is from Laurent Fignon's, 'We Were Young and Carefree'. He rode for the the Italian Gatorade team in 1992. He reveals it was a 'massive eye-opener for me, for the Italians a champion remains a champion and there is always colossal  respect for anyone who has won the greatest races in the past. The sportsman was king. It was a different world. As soon as I arrived in Italy I became aware of how much they admire the best cyclists, the campionissimi.'

L'Eroica, means "the heroic", in Italy is truly unique. The riders race on ancient strada blanche using 80s bikes, wearing wool jerseys and surrounded by gorgeous scenery and fuelled by mouth-watering food and wine. This is all designed to be as authentic to the golden era of cycling as possible. Starts and finishes in Gaiole in Ghianti every October. In fact, Forbes magazine (in 2008) named it one of the "most idyllic locales in Europe to live".

And may I add.. and to ride in!

Last but certainly not least...

My new Italian made handlebar tape by Deda Elementi.

from 100% Italian wool by
Red Dots Cycling.


Wonderful! One technical note - Larry doesn't think Pinarello ever actually wielded a torch, instead having others create the famous frames bearing his name. Very different than guys like DeRosa, Colnago, Masi, etc.