The Art of The Jersey book celebrates the jerseys of the peloton over the years and the publisher has sent two copies meaning one for review and one to give away. To enter simply pick who will be the last rider on the general classification when the Giro d’Italia finishes on Sunday.
Why the last rider?
For starters it’s a question that cannot be googled but there’s a textile twist and a tale to tell because in the Giro d’Italia the last rider overall is sometimes referred to as the maglia nera, the black jersey. Between 1946 to 1951 the last rider on the overall classification was awarded a distinctive jersey to wear during the race.
One of the intriguing aspects of cycling is that last place can be a cause for celebration and achievement, a rarity in sports where sometimes second place is the first loser. In a grand tour merely completing the course is a satisfaction and the slowest rider has often battled injury and illness as well as gravity. Max Leonard’s book Lanterne Rouge is a good account of the Tour de France’s last place finishers.
In the Giro last place mattered tremendously for a while and the maglia nera was worth fighting for, or at least it proved better to be last than second last. John Foot’s chronicle of Italian cycling Pedalare ! Pedalare ! tells the story well, in particular as Luigi Malabrocca and Luigi Carollo vied for last place. They set about it with amusing professionalism: Carollo wore two watches so he could be sure of just finishing inside the daily cut-off time as the idea was to come in as late as possible but no later; Malabrocca was once asked by a fan to collect Fausto Coppi’s signature but replied he didn’t what Coppi looked like who to look for because Coppi was up the road and he was far behind. Both would hide behind bushes, under bridges and in cafés. Malabrocca once hid inside an agricultural water tank at which point an alarmed farmer asked what on earth was going on. “Riding the Giro d’Italia” came Malabrocca’s reply. Novelist, poet and Giro correspondent Dino Buzzati wrote the last placed rider was “the standard bearer for all the destitute and needy on this earth“. As Foot says this jersey even had a political context in post-War Italy after the defeat of fascism: once a symbol of power the black shirt was now for the “loser” and it lives on, Foot writes that today Malabrocca’s name has been appropriated by the Slow Food movement in Italy. The last maglia nera was awarded in 1951 to Giovanni Pinarello who hung up his wheels soon after and opened the bike shop that spawned the eponymous brand.
To be in with a chance of winning this book simply pick who you think will last on the general classification when the race finishes in Turin this Sunday and leave your pick in the comments below. It’s not an easy pick because some of stragglers now are bound to get eliminated or quit in the following days.
The rules bit
- Entries close on Friday at midday Euro time
- Only entries in the comments below count, emails and tweets won’t be reviewed
- You can leave a name, pseudonym as you like but don’t have to fill in the email field before posting a comment, this is not an email harvesting exercise masquerading as a giveaway
- In the event multiple correct picks the names will go into a random draw and one winner will be picked. If nobody picks right then the closest pick wins