Pieces of Pantani

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The Pantani Jersey is a special edition of the Rapha Super-Lightweight Jersey that features design elements based on the life and career of the controversial Italian rider. Here, we speak to Ultan Coyle, the man responsible for the artwork the jersey carries.

The Fabric


The Super-Lightweight fabric is a proprietary polyester made exclusively for Rapha. Breathable, comfortable and light against the skin, it is the ideal fabric for climbing in hot conditions.

“The aim was to create a climbing-specific jersey that drew on different strands of Pantani’s life,” says Coyle, whose other rider-inspired designs have featured on numerous Rapha products. The result is a range of icons and motifs that acknowledge both Pantani’s public image and his personal and family life, and which Coyle has brought together in a highly-detailed design.


“Even today,” says Coyle, “you still see lots of Pantani graffiti on climbs in the Alps, Dolomites and elsewhere. The repeat pattern on the jersey fabric was about paying tribute to the love that clearly remains for him.”

The fabric on the back of the neck also features a tricolour trim in celeste, blue and yellow, a nod to both his famous Bianchi bike and his association with the Tour. “In Italy,” adds Coyle, “he was regarded as the next great Tour champion.”


The Graphics

Of the several different logos on the jersey that pertain to Pantani’s extraordinary career, let’s start with that nickname, Il Pirata.

pantani-05When Pantani first arrived on the scene, a wreath of receding hair belied his age and it was not until he returned from a career-threatening crash, in 1997, that he we saw the Bic-smooth head, diamond nose-stud and famous bandana. Whether or not this buccaneering look was an intentional ploy to rebrand himself, it instantly created ‘Pantani the pirate’. And it wasn’t just the bandana. He may not have been Errol Flynn but his swashbuckling attacking style contained sufficient maverick spirit and energy to justify the moniker.

“Il Pirata was an obvious choice for the principal logo,” adds Coyle “but the colour and type elsewhere nod towards his team, Mercatone Uno, and the logo-font of his bike manufacturer.”

There are also two crests on the jersey’s chest. On the right, above the Rapha logo, a roundel reads Mamma Piadine/Cesenatico. This refers to the piadina, an Italian flatbread typical of Pantani’s home region of Emilia-Romagna. Tonina Pantani, Marco’s mother, used to run a kiosk in Cesenatico selling them and they were supposedly the rider’s favourite thing to eat. His choices of fillings for his piadina, before and after a training ride, were either sweet coconut and Nutella, or salty sausage and onion.


The left chest also has a sublimated badge, this time reading Angelo della Montagna/ Gaul e Pantani/ Maestro e Allievo: ‘Angel of the Mountains/ Gaul and Pantani/ Master and Student.’ This alludes to the story of Pantani seeking out Charly Gaul, the iconic Luxembourgian climber known as the Angel of the Mountains, and who had become something of a recluse post-career. The two became friends, perhaps because they shared that mercurial fragility apparent in a lot of the sport’s best climbers.

On the back neck is another ‘logo’, this time simply reading Pantani. The type is reminiscent again of the graffiti found celebrating Pantani and as Coyle points out, the drawn-out ‘P’ across the top is common both in Italian typography and roadside graffiti.


The right rear pocket of the jersey has an embroidered patch bearing a graphic of a diamond and reading ‘Montecampione Gioielli’ (‘Montecampione Jewellery’). This is a play on the infamous tale in which Pantani threw away his diamond nosestud at the foot of Monte Campione, the climb on which he dispatched his closest rival, Pavel Tonkov, on his way to victory at the 1998 Giro d’Italia. Pantani went on to a Giro-Tour double that year and shedding unnecessary weight at the foot of a climb became a signal that he was about to unleash his devastating attack.


The final thing Coyle curated for the jersey’s design was a very special story label on the inside pocket – a handwritten note from Tonina Pantani to her son. We won’t reveal what it says here (partly because it’s written in Italian) but it’s a moving and poignant finishing touch to a jersey Rapha are proud to have produced.

A portion of the proceeds from the sales of the jersey will be donated to the Pantani Foundation.

The Super-Lightweight Pantani Jersey is available to buy here »


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  • Bob Smith

    I went in to the London shop last week to buy 2 of the Pantani jerseys.
    Customer service was non existent, maybe because I am Asian? Been in a couple of times in fact and the service has been shocking. Plenty of staff around, scruffy lot, won’t be buying anymore Rapha merchandise.
    An absolute disgrace!

    • Stan

      my NY shop experience was excellent !

    • Jonathan Patrickson

      Because you are Asian?
      Are you for real?

    • HotspringMonkey

      I have to say I don’t recognise any if these problems at the London Cycle Club. In my experience the staff are extremely helpful and could hardly be described as scruffy. It is true that at certain times of day such as lunch time the shop can be very busy. A lot of local workers use their break to go in and have a browse. Obviously at that sort of time the staff are going to be under pressure to help a lot of people but I’ve never seen that translate into any kind of rudeness. At worst they might have to deal with enquiries a bit more briskly than at other times. If you need more attention it’s only common sense to go in at a less busy time or if you can’t avoid it to just take a chill pill and wait your turn.
      The comment about receiving poor treatment because of being Asian is highly inflammatory and smacks of trolling.

      • Bob Smith

        i’m guessing you work for Rapha?
        When I went it was mid afternoon, very few customers in there.
        So FUCK YOU!

        • HotspringMonkey

          Look you’re obviously upset. I don’t have anything to do with Rapha but we’re all cyclists right? You made some pretty strong allegations so why don’t you get in touch with the MD of Rapha directly and explain your grievances then come back to the forum and tell everyone the result? I’ll even offer to go along with you to verify the outcome. How about it?
          I’m skeptical but if I’m wrong I’ll be happy to buy you an espresso but this is no place for that kind of language.

  • Lars ødegaard

    Why is nobody answering my emails? Tried 3 times…

  • Cliff Nichols

    Lots of ‘Asians’ use the Sydney store….and guess what? my observation is they are treated with the same friendliness and respect as everyone else…regardless of colour, creed. Even MTB’ers are welcome for goodness sake. :-)

    BTW – Love the thinking and craft in the Pantani jersey…love the colour too…shame that being such a big bloke that hills are not my friend! (*except on the way down)

  • Dominggus Holle

    my London shop experience was also excellent!!! :)