The overuse of the term 'iconic' is generally to be deplored. However, in the case of the maillot jaune, or yellow jersey, it’s probably applicable. As close to a religious symbol as cycling possesses, it’s the most coveted of prizes and the most universally recognised of garments.
Introduced to the Tour de France in 1919, more than the money or the trophy, it’s been the jersey that truly matters ever since. It’s a bit of a coup then to discover it’s an Italian firm that’s set to provide the world’s most famous race with its leader’s jersey for the next five years.
Displacing the Gallic brand Le Coq Sportif which has supplied the race for a decade, the Bergamo-based firm Santini will also provide leaders jerseys for the Tour de France Femmes.
Held sporadically and in drastically different formats since 1984, the women’s Tour de France was first won by the American Marianne Martin, who can claim to be the first woman to secure the yellow jersey.
Last raced in a much shorter format in 2009, the hope is that next year’s eight-day race will expand and become a consistent event each year. Having variously been called the Tour de France Women, Tour of the EEC Women, Tour de France Women, and the Grande Boucle Féminine Internationale, the name also now seems settled as the Tour de France Femmes.
Sisters at the helm
If 2022 marks the first year female racers can expect to fight for a yellow jersey with the reasonable expectation of being able to do so again 12-months later, it seems appropriate that it should be produced by a firm headed by a woman too.
Founded in 1965 by her eponymous father, Pietro, Santini is now run by sisters Monica and Paola. Producing both of next year’s yellow jerseys is another achievement for a company that already supplies the Giro d’Italia's Maglia Rosa, the Vuelta a España’s La Roja, plus the rainbow jerseys of the various UCI World Champions.
“This agreement shines out in the portfolio of partnerships our company has built up over its 50-plus years in the professional cycling world," explained Monica Santini.
“Signing this agreement was a hugely emotional experience for us, and we're thrilled to announce this partnership with the Tour de France. It marks the continuation of a relationship with ASO, begun with the sponsorship of La Vuelta and followed on with the Deutschland Tour. Now we have also added the most important race on the international cycling calendar to our tally”.
Previously featuring on our round table alongside Lizzie Deignan and Fran Millar, both sisters are due to speak at the upcoming Rouleur Live show.
The Santini stand will also be a first opportunity to see next year’s yellow jerseys in the flesh. Taking place in London between the 4-6th November, more information and tickets can be found here.