If you think of the Giro d’Italia, it is very likely that
the color pink will immediately pop up in your head.
In most races the jersey for the general classification is yellow.
Though in the Giro this is not the case: there it has the color pink.
The history of the ‘Maglia Rosa’ goes back a long time.
In 1909 La Gazzetta dello Sport announced that
a bicycle race was held in May of that same year.
Jerseys were not given by the organisation at the time,
because the Gazzetta didn’t think of that until 1931.
Since the paper was printed in the color pink, someone came up
with the bright idea to let the best rider of the field wear a pink jersey.
The public would then recognize him very easily.
Learco Guerra, an Italian rider, was the first one to wear it in ‘31.
From that year on the ‘Maglia Rosa’ moved from rider to rider.
Among them were Binda, Bartali, Coppi, Gaul, Nencini, Gimondi, Merckx,
Hinault, Saronni, Indurain, Cipollini, Pantani, Basso and Cunego.
We know these names, they all sound familiar.
Still, less known riders have also worn the pink jersey,
even if it was only for two or three days.
Fermo Camellini, who grew up in the hills of Emilia,
wore the pink jersey three stages long in 1946.
Alessandro Fantini, who won seven stages during his short career
with a very tragic ending, got to wear the pink jersey for 10 days.
Wilfried Reybrouck probably felt very lucky back in 1974.
To win a stage in your first year as a professional cyclist
is already something, but he also wore the pink jersey for two days.
It probably was the biggest highlight in his short career of only five years.
What to think of the first day in the Giro of 2007?
Team Liquigas won the team time trial.
Danilo Di Luca, who was riding for Liquigas
that year, was supposed to cross the finish line first.
Yet, his teammate Enrico Gasparotto was in front of Di Luca,
did not let him win and therefore got to wear the ‘Maglia Rosa’.
Of course Di Luca was not amused, but Gasparotto had his ‘pink’ moment.
Another great story comes from this year’s Giro d’Italia.
Pieter Weening, a Dutch rider, won the fifth stage
and on top of that he got to wear the pink jersey for four days.
He lost it to Alberto Contador, which is nothing to be ashamed of.
He stated that wearing this jersey demands a lot of a rider,
being taken from place to place all the time.
Right now another new ‘Maglia Rosa’ story is developing.
Alberto Contador is wearing the pink jersey and
many people think that he will wear it until the end of the Giro.
His story will certainly be known by many people.
Still, every story of the ‘Maglia Rosa’ is unique.
One may be more known than another, but they are all important.
© Imago / NZZ Online