Giovanni Pinarello died in Treviso on Thursday evening at the age of 92. A professional for six seasons in the post-war period, Pinarello’s most indelible contribution to cycling was the establishment of the bicycle brand that bears his name.
Born the eighth of twelve children in Catena di Villorba, near Treviso, in 1922, ‘Nani’ Pinarello raced as an independent in 1946 before turning professional with Lygie-Pirelli the following year.
The fast-finishing Pinarello won nine races as a professional and finished second at the 1947 Milan-Turin, but he garnered most fame in his career for wearing the maglia nera as last-placed rider at the 1951 Giro d’Italia, performing a lap of honour on the Vigorelli velodrome in the company of pink jersey Fiorenzo Magni.
In 1952, the Bottecchia team paid him compensation to make way for Pasqualino Fornara on its Giro roster, and Pinarello put the sum to good use, using the 100,000 lira to buy a local bike shop, from where he later established his own bicycle brand on retiring in 1953.
The first major success enjoyed by Pinarello bikes came in 1975, when Fausto Bertoglio won a dramatic edition of the Giro d’Italia that concluded atop the Stelvio. Further major successes arrived in the 1980s through Giovanni Battaglin, Alexi Grewal’s 1984 Olympic gold medal and Pedro Delgado’s 1988 Tour de France win.
Pinarello bikes dominated the Tour in the 1990s, thanks to the successive victories of Miguel Indurain, Bjarne Riis and Jan Ullrich, while Team Sky’s Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome rode Pinarello to the yellow jersey in 2012 and 2013.
In recent years, Pinarello handed the reins of the company to his son Fausto. His other son, Andrea, died tragically in 2011 after suffering a heart attack following the opening stage of the amateur Giro del Friuli.