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“Il Campionissimo’s” Rainbow Jersey: De Marchi celebrates Fausto Coppi

Old De Marchi photoPhoto c. De Marchi. Emilio De Marchi (far left) in front of the "Maglificio" in 1946. Third from the left was Antonio Bevilacqua, 1950 and 51 World Champion
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Looking back at the Golden Age of cycling and the myth that is Fausto Coppi, De Marchi has shared an unpublished video interview with Fausto’s son, Faustino. He fondly recalls the Campionissimo through his personal memories, witty anecdotes, and some random, scattered thoughts.

Fausto Coppi was probably the winningest cyclist of the Golden Age of cycling. Some say his 1953 World Championship was his best effort. Some believe he was the best cyclist to throw a leg over a bicycle.

Faustino recalls his father’s legacy through choked-back tears, and as I watched the video, I’m reminded that although it’s been over 60 years since Fausto passed at only 40 years young, this is still a son remembering his father and the impact he made on the world of cycling. It’s a pretty powerful video.

The Story Behind Fausto Coppi’s Rainbow Jersey

De Marchi made Fausto Coppi’s first rainbow jersey… and the story goes like this…

It’s 1953 and 22-year-old Elda De Marchi has been working in the shop, Maglificio Sportivo De Marchi with her mom and dad since it started back in 1946.

She was helping the family business make wool jerseys and shorts for the North-Eastern Italian teams such as Botteccia, Atala, and Wilier.

They were also making jerseys and shorts for their friends, like, her dad’s good friend Gino Bartali. Bartali and Coppi were rivals extrodinare.

Old De Marchi photo
Photo c. De Marchi. Emilio De Marchi (far left) in front of the “Maglificio” in 1946. Third from the left was Antonio Bevilacqua, 1950 and 51 World Champion

In 1947 Coppi and Bartali came to Treviso for a race. Emilio De Marchi (Elda’s dad), being a close friend to Bartali, invited both cyclists to see his brand-new knitting shop just a few kilometers North. It was then, that Elda finally got to meet her hero, Coppi.

Fast forward to 1953, Fausto is in his prime but hasn’t won the Worlds. He won on track in both 1947 and 1949 but only landed third in the Worlds in ’49.

Lugano Switzerland, an entire nation was behind Fausto, but the story has it that none more than Edla De Marchi.

Photo c. De Marchi (Wikimedia Commons). Fausto Coppi at the Trofeo Baracchi, Nov. 4th 1953, wearing the rainbow jersey made for him by Elda De Marchi.

It is also said that Elda actually had a dream that Coppi won the Worlds. She secretly started making a rainbow jersey for Fausto. She worked at night so as to not upset her parents for wasting precious production time on a dream.

Fausto won the 1953 World Championship and Elda managed to get her jersey delivered to him. The Campionissimo was awarded the official UCI jersey, but he swapped that for the jersey that Elda made for him and wore it for the rest of the ’53 season and through the ’54 season.

Is the Jersey Real?

Fausto's actual championship jersey by Elda De Marchi
Photo c. De Marchi. The original rainbow jersey made by Elda De Marchi for Fausto Coppi in 1953

Fausto’s rainbow jersey was lost for over 60 years. Then, in 2015 the well-stored, and cared-for rainbow jersey resurfaced when Museo del Ghisallo on lake Como got a donation from a friend of Coppi’s. This “friend” said that he acquired the rainbow jersey straight from the “hands of the Campionissimo himself” just before his untimely passing.

Some doubts about the jersey’s authenticity arose. But new technology developed by the Czech Republic, Microphotography, was used to examine the jersey. The new tech examined thousands of points from an original photograph of the Campionissimo and compared it to an image of the recovered jersey. The determination was that, without a doubt, in the photo of Fausto racing in the 1953 Trofeo Barracchi he was, in fact, wearing the actual rainbow jersey that the young Elda De Marchi made for him.

What a story, eh? Good stuff.

If you’d like to get in on some of the look and nostalgia of cycling’s past, check out the De Marchi Heritage Collection here.


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1 year ago

DeMarchi makes quite a lot of cool stuff, but it also provides the worst customer service I’ve ever encountered. On three separate occasions I asked for advice on sizing (since their sizing guide is very limited as is their refund policy). Never got a single answer even after asking several times on each occasion. Result: I’ll never buy anything from them, and I’m writing this to dissuade others as well.

Ashok Captain
Ashok Captain
1 year ago

Love it! Super-cool story! Super-cool characters. Thank you for sharing this. Cheers, Ashok

Martin Navarre
Martin Navarre
1 year ago

Riccardo Filippi, behind Coppi appears to be wearing the same jersey … to my non-microphotography eye.
The idea of a 2-person time trial is pretty cool. Some wealthy company should sponsor this with big prize money for the winners. Would be a cool event for Friday at an F1 weekend.

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