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Giro d'Italia jerseys: History of the Maglia Rosa leader's jersey

Josh Cunningham
8 May 2019

A look at the inauguration, the most prolific winners, and style icons, of the Giro d'Italia's famous pink jersey

The Tour de France introduced the leader's jersey concept in 1919, with the yellow colour being chosen on account of it being the colour of the paper its organising newspaper, L'Auto, was printed on. But it wasn't until 1931 - 22 years after the inaugural event - that the Giro d'Italia followed suit, and the leader of the race overall began to sport a pink jersey, the Maglia Rosa, in which to be identified.

The colour reasoning was much the same though, as the race's founder and chief organiser, La Gazetta Dello Sport, was printed on pink paper.

Francesco Camusso was the winner of the 1931 Giro, and goes down in history as the first winner of the Maglia Rosa. Despite victories in 1925, 1927, 1928, 1929 and 1933, which equals the record five Giro d'Italia wins, Alfredo Binda can only count one Maglia Rosa to his name, as it was only his lattermost victory that came after the 1931 inception.

Fausto Coppi and Eddy Merckx, who dominated the race with five victories each between 1940 and 1974, equalled Binda's record, but technically have more pink jerseys to their name.

Louison Bobet, 1957.

In the decade between 1976 and 1985, Francesco Moser wore the pink jersey every year but two, however he only won it once, in 1984, after beating Laurent Fignon.

The Frenchman claimed that organisers were out to get him though, cancelling stages, and purposefully flying helicopters in front of him during the decisive final time-trial, to aid the Italian's only win.

Regardless, despite the time frame, it is Merckx who holds the record for most days in pink, with 77 days compared to Moser's 50. 

Alongside the General Classification, there is the points classification, today signified by a purple jersey, which was introduced in 1958 for one year, before a small hiatus, and its eventual re-introduction in 1967.

The mountains jersey however was first awarded in 1933, and is recognised today by the Maglia Azzurra - blue jersey, while the final piece in the quartet, the young rider's jersey, was first rolled out in 1976, and similarly to the Tour de France, is coloured white - the Maglia Bianca.

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