Each week here at Cyclingnews, we like to pluck out a specific piece of cycling tech that's really caught our eye and turn it into a standalone feature, affectionately known as Object of Desire.
Sometimes, that forms the structure of a review and other times it's a highlight piece of tech that's been loaned to Cyclingnews HQ for the very purpose of the feature itself. This time out, with our attention having been glued to the Giro d'Italia for the better part of a month, we're turning to the highly desirable world of the pro peloton.
While the jet-setting life of a pro cyclist might be the ultimate desire for many a two-wheeled aficionado, it's the custom changeout jerseys that have really given us the pangs of jealousy over recent months.
It all started when EF Pro Cycling basically turned themselves into rule-breaking, meme-making cycling rockstars. Ok, so admittedly cycling has pretty low standards when it comes to rockstardom, but when they paired up with skateboard brand Palace and turned up at the 2020 Giro wearing radical internet-breaking jerseys - which they were fined for, no less - and rode bikes that had been sticker-bombed like your neighbourhood boy racer's Citroen Saxo, we couldn't help but feel a little jealous. Of course, they then wore helmets styled like ducks, but we're cyclists and we're used to being a little… uh… different, so we all rolled with it anyway.
After that performance, outdoing it at this year's Giro was going to be a tough ask, but they still certainly gave it a good go. However, in this writer's humble opinion, it was the surprise unveiling of Israel Start-Up Nation's kit that provoked the deeper sense of regret that his genetic disposition, general laziness, and penchant for pizza resulted in a life without a pro contract. Not least because of how cool
Tom Cruise Davide Cimolai looked whilst wearing it in the pre-launch photoshoot.
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First off, it's an all-around genuinely great looking piece of design. Sure, none of the kids at the local pump track are talking about it, but its more conservative styling doesn't care much for their opinion anyway. Unlike that EF x Palace design, it doesn't pretend to be something it's not, so there's definitely no risk of it ever being like that time your dad wore Air Jordans to the pub with his bootcut jeans.
The jersey was designed as a thank you to the team's new sponsor Vini Fantini, or perhaps more accurately, the Fantini Group SRL: a brand that according to its Instagram tagline is the 'biggest boutique winery in Italy'. The design itself is inspired by the brand's wines, and as a result, it features a quite pleasing blend of navy and red. Red for the wine, of course, and we're told that the navy represents the team's usual accent colour. On the shoulders and rear, vine leaf patterning is included, adding a touch of extra elegance to the jersey and reminding us that wine is grapes, and therefore healthy. The logic is sound, I'll hear no arguments.
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Speaking ahead of the kit unveiling, Fantini Group President, Valentino Sciotti expressed gratitude for the change-out design. “We thank Sylvan Adams, Ron Baron, and the whole team for this beautiful gift. It’s a tremendous opportunity for us to be under the spotlight in the most important race in Italy. We will live this moment with immense joy and as a further incentive to love this sport even more.”
Based in Ortona on the west coast of Italy, Sciotti would have seen the race bypass the company HQ on stage 7. A day in which riders enjoyed a flat route between Notaresco and Termoli, where the aforementioned Cimolai cruised to a second-place finish, bettered only by Caleb Ewan of Lotto Soudal. No doubt that marked a good day for the brand, but it would eventually be beaten on stage 17, when Dan Martin was able to raise his hands aloft across the finish line - and no doubt enjoy a lovely glass of red to celebrate.
Of course, the early departure of Krists Neilands will have been a blow to the team, and the subsequent departure of Alex Dowsett too, but with days like that, the jersey was still given plenty of airtime by the remaining riders, and thus, ample opportunity to remind us onlookers that we didn't make the big time.
Nonetheless, while those contracted riders return to their standard blue and white jersey, I'm going straight to the team's website to buy the switch-out kit, and I'll wear it to my heart's content throughout this lovely weather the UK is currently enjoying, before returning home to eat as much pizza as I like, probably accompanied by a couple of glasses of Vini Fantini's finest - it is Friday, don't forget. Perhaps life's not so bad without a pro contract, after all.
Take that, pro riders. And chapeau Jinga for a great design.
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