Never, in any of the 100 previous editions, has the Giro d’Italia ventured so far to the east. And neither the Tour nor the Vuelta has been so daring as to leave the borders of Europe. But times change, the Corsa Rosa is now a celebration known around the world (194 countries connected!) and, as a tribute to the legendary Gino Bartali, the Giro organizers decided to start in Israel this year. The festivities got underway with a beautiful individual time trial in Jerusalem, a city considered holy by three ancient religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam), a true centre of the world, which for the first time was able to host a cycling event of the highest level on its historic streets.
It was a picturesque start that held special meaning for Castelli. After 26 years, the scorpion is back on the pink jersey and the leaders’ jerseys for all the special classifications. The first rider to pull on the highly coveted symbol of achievement was Tom Dumoulin, who was also the last to do so, having worn it triumphantly in Milan at the conclusion of the previous edition. On the podium in Jerusalem, he again put on pink, covering up the rainbow jersey won last year in the time trial in Qatar with the colour of the leader of the Giro d’Italia.
It was also an exciting moment for Sonia Vignati, who, for the first time, from behind the scenes, saw a rider pull on a pink jersey with the scorpion in the race that is dearest to Italians’ hearts. “It was a very exciting day, one of the best in my career, made even more special by the atmosphere in Israel,” says the tailor to the champions.
“We insisted that the zipper pull on the jerseys for the leaders of all the special classifications, not just the pink jersey, have the shape of the Trofeo Senza Fine (the “endless trophy)”
“We worked hard on this jersey, over a short time period. We started with researching the fabric and then focused on the details and the graphics. I was helped in this by my assistants Laura and Valentina. Obviously, we worked with RCS Sport at every step and did everything with their approval”
The Castelli touch is not lacking, of course, with one detail that stands out above all, as Sonia points out: “We insisted that the zipper pull on the jerseys for the leaders of all the special classifications, not just the pink jersey, have the shape of the Trofeo Senza Fine (the “endless trophy” presented to the winner of the Giro) and a gold color.”
“We brought about 120 jerseys in total,” she says, “calculating more or less 30 for each classification, ranging from XS to L.”
From the privileged position from which she watched the first award ceremony, Sonia offers us an interesting glimpse into the backstage activity: “Before going on stage to put on the podium jersey, Dumoulin first tried on the race jersey that he would wear the next day, a size M that we prepared on-site by printing on his sponsor logos.” Castelli’s suitcase for Israel was full. “We brought about 120 jerseys in total,” she says, “calculating more or less 30 for each classification, ranging from XS to L.” So no giants in the Giro.
The two flat stages on Saturday and Sunday were dominated by an old Castelli acquaintance, Elia Viviani, Olympic champion in the omnium at Rio 2016 in the Italian jersey, and until last year a member of Team Sky. The sprinter from Isola della Scala, who now rides for Quick-Step Floors, achieved a fine double victory with the sprints he unleashed first in Tel Aviv and then in Eilat 24 hours later. He will wear the Castelli cyclamen jersey when the race resumes in Italy, and the 29-year-old from the Veneto hopes to wear it, overcoming even the challenges of the Zoncolan and the Colle delle Finestre, all the way to Rome.
The show has just begun, and the Giro d’Italia caravan is ready to work its way north after entertaining the sea of people waiting for the race to start again in Sicily today.
Silvia Galliani / TDWSport.com / Tito Capovilla / Steve Smith