By Paul Norman
Not least was Marco Pantani when he rode for the Mercatano Uno team. Pantani still holds the record for the fastest ascent of Alpe d’Huez, when he was riding a Wilier. His ascent in 1997 is recorded at 37 minutes 35 seconds. In comparison, Thibaut Pinot won this year’s stage to Alpe d’Huez with an ascent in 42 minutes 18 seconds whilst Nairo Quintana’s nail biting ride was in 39 minutes 22 seconds.
At its factory Wilier has two bikes ridden by Pantani on display: his time trial bike and a carbon road bike from 2000. Both have saddles embroidered with his famous pirate logo.
>>> Marco Pantani - the highs and lows
Pantani’s bikes are built with a comparatively long top tube relative to the seat tube, to support his diminutive physique and stretched out style, when he would typically climb in the drops.
Pantani’s Dura-Ace chainset and pedals and low profile rims are typical of the era, as is the longer wheelbase and much longer chainstays than would be found on a modern race bike.
The time trial bike ridden by Pantani also displays his pirate logo on the aerobars.
Wilier also has on show the bike ridden by Davide Rebellin, who won all three Ardennes Classics in a single week in 2004. He was the first rider to achieve this treble win, which has only been repeated once since – by Philippe Gilbert in his stand-out 2011 season.
Rebellin is still riding professionally and won the Queen Stage of the Tour of Turkey in April this year.
Alesandro Petacchi rode a Wilier to the Tour de France green jersey in 2010 and this green Centro1 bike was customised for his ceremonial entry into Paris as jersey wearer.
Wilier does not currently provide bikes to a top-tier team, its place as bike sponsor to Lampre being taken by Merida in 2013. It claims that the money saved has allowed it to build the substantial extension to its Rossano Veneto factory shown on the left.
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