ITALY: La Maglia Rosa, the iconic pink jersey of a race leader was introduced in a professional cycling tournament, Giro d’Italia in the year 1931 by Armando Cougnet, a sports journalist at La Gazzetta Dello Sport, the newspaper that organized the first Giro d’Italia tournament in 1909.
Pink was chosen because it was the colour of La Gazzetta Dello Sport, the newspaper.
A path-breaking idea
Armando Cougnet came up with the idea of differentiating the race leader from other by creating a jersey with a strong colour like Pink.
This will help the race leader identifiable from the rest of the riders.
Most of the renowned global cycling races go the extra mile to live up to the custom of honouring the leader of the overall classification in a race with a special jersey.
The jersey has over the period become an icon to reckon and the cyclists and their teams give tremendous effort to achieve one and maintain the same throughout the race.
The honour of being the first rider to wear it fell to Learco Guerra, back in 1931 after winning the opening stage from Milan to Mantova.
Hailing from Mantua, he gained the nickname ‘The human locomotive’ for his powerful riding.
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The texture changed over the period of time
In the beginning, Maglia Rosa was made from wool, with front pockets. 90 years hence, lots of changes in texture and quality of the jersey.
Now, the jerseys are made from super lightweight lycra and fit tightly. A special skinsuit version is provided to the race leader for the time trials.
The 2021 Maglia Rosa jerseys are made from super lightweight lycra by Castelli.
In these 90 years, the pink jersey has undoubtedly established itself as one of the most recognizable distinctive jerseys in the cycling world, at the level of the yellow jersey of the Tour de France, an annual men’s multiple stage bicycle race primarily held in France or the rainbow jersey of the world champion.
Legends honored with Maglia Rosa
To date around 254 riders wore the Maglia Rosa at least for one day.
Alfredo Binda, Fausto Coppi, and Eddy Merckx lead the list of best cyclists with five victories each honoured with the Pink jersey in the last nine decades.
Eddy Merckx holds the record of 78 days in the pink jersey, followed by Francesco Moser with 57 and Gino Bartali with 50.
Legendary riders who have worn the Maglia Rosa over the years include Gino Bartali, Fausto Coppi, Charly Gaul, Felice Gimondi, Eddy Merckx, Francesco Moser, Bernard Hinault, Laurent Fignon, Marco Pantani and many more.
‘Disposto a salire alle stelle’, the final words in Dante’s Purtagorio are printed on the inside collar of this year’s Maglia Rosa.
Incidentally, 2021 is also 700th death anniversary of the Poet. In addition to celebrating 90 years of Maglia rosa, is also.
An interactive virtual maglia museum
To commemorate the completion of nice decades of Maglia Rosa, Giro d’ Italia hosted an interactive virtual exhibition on the legendary journey of Maglia Rosa on the official website of the race.
Museo del Ghisallo, the cycling museum, and ACdB Museo partnered to narrate the story of the Maglia Rosa and the history of the Giro d’Italia across decades.
Each virtual room narrates the story of a decade and the different pink jersey wearers, video footage of the race, collections of front pages of La Gazzetta Dello Sport, rider photos, and details of the different Maglia Rosa.
The Museo del Ghisallo cycling museum showcased with perfect detail the history of the sports from inception to date.
Recently, Giro d’Italia’s organiser RCS Sport held a poll on social media for fans to vote for the favourite pink jersey winner. 32 riders were selected for the same.
Around a million voters decided that Marco Pantani’s pink jersey from 1998 was the most popular of all. Pantani won the final vote ahead of Coppi.
In the 104th edition of the 2021 Giro d’Italia, the first Grand Tour of the 2021 season began on May 8, 2021, and ends on May 30.
The race comprises 21 stages and covers 3,479.9 kilometres. The race is on the final stage now and lets us watch eagerly who wins Maglia Rosa this special year for the overall performance in the race.
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