To mark the centenary edition of our favourite race, Rapha proudly presents the Coppi collection. Paying homage to the great Fausto Coppi, these special edition pieces echo the style of the era, rich with all the flair and detail you’d expect from a celebration of Il Campionissimo.
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The Coppi Collection
The Craft Of Champions
In a hundred years of racing, few cyclists have stood out like Fausto Coppi. With the help of Italian artisans, we pay our respects to Il Campionissimo, the champion of champions, with the Coppi collection.
Our Coppi collection is a celebration of one of the sport’s greats. Prolific, iconoclastic, stylish. Here is a man who would not have looked out of place on the silver screen, starring alongside Elizabeth Taylor. Sunglasses, wide-lapelled overcoats, sharp suits. If you’ve ever been surprised by the effortless cool of Lachlan Morton in plaid shirt and bibs, or Taylor Phinney wearing a denim jacket over his team kit, wind the clock back 70 years. Fausto was there first.
This golden age is revered as much for the acts of its heroes as their timeless style. There are no streaming ultra high-definition videos. Instead, beautiful black and white photographs and evocative grainy film clips preserve riders’ panache. If we want to emulate Il Campionissimo, here is our style guide. Just as there are framebuilders hand making beautiful steel frames, there are still places crafting wool garments to the highest standard.
Less than an hour outside of Milan, de facto fashion capital of Italy, is a factory that specialises in producing knitwear all the way from yarn to finished garment. Self Maglieria have been producing prêt-à-porter garments for luxury brands and haute couture for elite sportspeople since 1965. This is where we chose to make the woolen pieces in our Coppi collection.
Fausto Coppi’s roots were in neighbouring Piemonte. Born in Tortona, he died no more than 20km south in Castellania, where his house is preserved in memoriam, as if he stepped out the front door on a training ride and could return at any moment. Coppi’s legacy has literally taken root – his grandson Francesco has a vineyard nearby, a small family-run farm where he produces wine traditionally.
This is the land where Coppi, a skinny butcher’s boy, grew as a rider. Here he developed the strength in his legs that enabled him to ride away from his rivals on Passo dell’Abetone – including reigning champion and teammate Gino Bartali – heralding his arrival unto the world of cycling in 1940. It was the first stroke of a brush in what turned out to be a masterpiece. This was Fausto’s first flight. While his ascendancy was interrupted by the outbreak of the second world war, it was hardly abated.
The majority of Coppi’s wins were in celeste. Two yellow jerseys, four of five Giro wins, every one of his record five wins at Il Lombardia, all for the Bianchi trade team. Rapha’s Coppi Celeste Merino Jersey is our offering to this iconic team, with period details faithfully replicated.
The jersey is made of pure merino Italian yarn. It fits looser, like the jerseys of Coppi’s day, which means they look as good off the bike as on. The sponsor plate is made of silk dress liner as would have been used in the day. Coppi’s signature is chain stitched to the sleeve, and the labels are authentic single shuttle loom cotton labels from the era. Zips are rose coloured and silver plated, and will develop a unique patina as they age. Turn the hem over and you’ll find a label there, like the jerseys of Coppi’s day.
Of course, a rider of his calibre wouldn’t always wear team colours. Our very special Coppi Rosa Merino Jersey has all the detail of the celeste jersey, but is crafted from a heavier weight double knit wool, giving it a luxurious feel that can only truly be appreciated up close. Woven into the knit are designs based on headlines and fan art of the time. Incorporating them was not easy. The artwork had to be carefully programmed into the knitting machines, resulting in an intricate final piece.
Other highlights of the collection include a tribute to the infamous maglia nera, a black jersey with an interesting story of its own, a luxury merino wool tracksuit crafted using a honeycomb texture double knit for an incredibly premium feel and finish, and a silk scarf with Coppi’s ‘Code of Champions’ applied.
It may be decades since he graced the roads, but we can still evoke the style and panache of Il Campionissimo and Italy’s grand tour. The magic in cycling is that we too can have a taste of Coppi’s time. We too can toil our way across the mountains, suffering as he suffered. We too can pull on his jersey.