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eBay Finds: 1999 Marco Pantani Selle Italia Flite Classic saddle

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A limited-edition Marco Pantani Selle Italia Flite Classic saddle from around 1999 found on eBay

A limited-edition Marco Pantani Selle Italia Flite Classic saddle from around 1999 found on eBay (Image credit: green-japan / eBay)
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The weight of this new, unused saddle is just 224 grams, which compares very favourably with the weight of today’s racing saddles – and this one’s more than 20 years old

The weight of this new, unused saddle is just 224 grams, which compares very favourably with the weight of today’s racing saddles – and this one’s more than 20 years old (Image credit: green-japan / eBay)
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Race leader Marco Pantani (Mercatone Uno) rides ahead of compatriot and Italian road race champion Andrea Tafi (Mapei) on stage 18 of the 1998 Tour de France. Pantani's using an earlier 'Pirate' design on a Selle Italia Flite saddle, similar to the design of the Flite Classic saddle that celebrated his 1998 Giro-Tour double featured here

Race leader Marco Pantani (Mercatone Uno) rides ahead of compatriot and Italian road race champion Andrea Tafi (Mapei) on stage 18 of the 1998 Tour de France. Pantani's using an earlier 'Pirate' design on a Selle Italia Flite saddle, similar to the design of the Flite Classic saddle that celebrated his 1998 Giro-Tour double featured here (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

It was a tragic end to a well-loved, but flawed, rider when Italy's Marco Pantani was found dead at the age of 34 in a Rimini hotel room on Valentine's Day, 2004.

This circa-1999 Pantani-signature road bike saddle celebrates his victories in both the 1998 Giro d'Italia and 1998 Tour de France – Il Pirata at the height of his fame and dominance.

The saddle was made by Selle Italia to celebrate Pantani's 1998 Giro-Tour double – as marked by the yellow and pink stars on the design.

Certainly, Pantani used a previous, starless-but-similar Selle Italia Flite for the 1998 Tour de France, with a slightly different embroidered 'pirate logo'. We've not yet found clear pictorial evidence that Pantani used the exact same Flite model and design on offer here, but we're assuming that he did, and he does at least appear to have switched to a Flite with a much more similar design for the 1999 Giro – albeit with more grey along the sides of the saddle.

Selle Italia seemed to persevere with using the English 'Pirate' nickname on Pantani's saddles, no doubt trying to appeal to a larger, worldwide buyer-base, but perhaps not really registering that in reality most English speakers probably preferred calling him the far-more-fun and exotic 'Il Pirata'.

As well as that pirate moniker – clearly given due to his penchant for earrings and a bandana in the late 1990s – he was also slightly less kindly known as 'Elefantino', which translates to 'The Little Elephant', presumably due to his protruding ears.

Such was his awareness of said ears that later in his career he decided to have them pinned – and suddenly he didn't look like himself at all. It was a major change at a time when his life was already beginning to unravel, with accusations of doping and, it would later appear, a move to recreational drugs. His death was premature, unnecessary, and sad.

Race leader Marco Pantani (Mercatone Uno) rides ahead of compatriot and Italian road race champion Andrea Tafi (Mapei) on stage 18 of the 1998 Tour de France. Pantani's using an earlier 'Pirate' design on a Selle Italia Flite saddle, similar to the design of the Flite Classic saddle that celebrated his 1998 Giro-Tour double featured here

Race leader Marco Pantani (Mercatone Uno) rides ahead of compatriot and Italian road race champion Andrea Tafi (Mapei) on stage 18 of the 1998 Tour de France. Pantani's using an earlier 'Pirate' design on a Selle Italia Flite saddle, similar to the design of the Flite Classic saddle that celebrated his 1998 Giro-Tour double featured here (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

The Japan-based seller is asking £242.60 (US$305) for the predominantly yellow saddle, which has red 'scuff guards' on the outer edges of its widest part. There are a number of similarly priced examples of this same saddle on eBay, and if you've got a yellow or red – or, even better, a yellow-and-red – bike, then this unusual, celebratory retro saddle is surely a must-buy.

We're constantly on the lookout for unique and rare cycling relics on eBay. If you have any suggestions or leads, please send them to cyclingnews@cyclingnews.com with 'eBay Finds' in the subject line.