In homage to some of the great road climbs of Italy, Rapha has made four limited edition merino t-shirts, each inspired by legendary racing moments and era-specific typography. As with all Rapha clothing, the t-shirts feature a ‘story label’ printed inside, and ahead of tomorrow’s stage to Oropa we give you the chance to read them to discover the hallowed grounds that today’s racers will compete over in the coming week.
Photography by Pete Drinkell

H1-17_Merino-Monte-Dropa-T-shirt_Navy_Macro-Details-2

Oropa, 1,174m

Features on Saturday 20th, Stage 14

Pantani. Pantani. Pantani. The name of Italian cycling’s tragic son remains daubed on the country’s mountain roads. He is still revered. And in 2017, the climb to Oropa - the scene of one of Marco Pantani’s greatest rides - returns to the Giro as tribute for the race’s 100th edition. It was here in 1999 that the man in pink suffered a mechanical problem as the peloton hit the climb. Helped by his faithful gregari, who rode a furious team time trial pacing their man back up to the front, il Pirata overtook 49 riders to win at the mountaintop sanctuary. A miracle? Perhaps, but religion and cycling can appear one and the same in Italy.

Stelvio-Tunnel
Passo Dello Stelvio
H1-17_Merino-Monte-Stelvio-T-shirt_Black_Macro-Details-2

Passo dello Stelvio, 2,758m

Features on Tuesday 23rd, Stage 16

The 1953 Giro was in the balance ahead of its queen stage up the monstrous Stelvio pass. Hugo Koblet was two minutes ahead of an ageing Fausto Coppi, but the Swiss had been part of the ‘staring at the ceiling club’ the night before, having overindulged on amphetamines the previous stage. Did this give Coppi the belief to launch such a ferocious attack so early on the Stelvio? Or was it because il Campionissimo knew that his ‘Lady in White’, Giulia Locatelli, would be watching on the mountain? Asking if she’d be at the finish in Bormio as he passed, her ‘si’ in reply was all the motivation he needed to keep going. Coppi won the stage, and his fifth and final Giro.

mortirolo
Mortirolo from Tiola
H1-17_Merino-Monte-Mortirolo-T-shirt_White_Macro-Details-2

Passo di Mortirolo, 1,852m

Features on Tuesday 23rd, Stage 16

‘Mortirolo’ means ‘death roll’ in Italian, and with an average gradient of 11% for almost 12 kilometres up the traditional Mazzo di Valtellina side, it is an apt name. In only its second inclusion in the Giro d’Italia in 1991, Franco Chioccioli rolled the dice on the Mortirolo with an audacious attack 60km from the finish line. Cresting the climb alone, he continued solo all the way to the finish line in Aprica. The eventual winner of the race, after a decade of trying, Chioccioli had achieved his dream with no little panache.

grappa
Monte Grappa
H1-17_Merino-Monte-Grappa-T-shirt_Dark-Red_Macro-Details-2

Monte Grappa, 1,775m

Features on Saturday 27th, Stage 20

It is an age old tradition for cyclists from the Italian city of Padua to climb nearby Monte Grappa on 13th June, the day dedicated to the city’s patron, St. Anthony. In 1968, Emilio Casalini was racing up the mountain ahead of the peloton in service of his own patron, the great Eddy Merckx, who he could help near the top. Casalini was a humble water carrier, a man who knew his place, but, as the expected attacks behind never materialised, he held on to take his first ever victory as a cyclist. Grappa is known as ‘the climb of the heroes’, and in Casalini, the 28km-long pass had found a humble hero of the highest order.