In our special Italia Bici section, presents the finest Italy has to offer in bicycles and cycling apparel. Each feature presents a leading Italian manufacturer and its 2006 product lines, with special insights into the design and manufacture of their products, including the input provided by some of the world's leading professional cyclists.

In these pages, we also meet the designers and driving forces behind some of cycling's greatest names, and look at the history of companies that have shaped the sport in the world's number one cycling nation.


"I never knew how much went into making a saddle", former professional rider Andrea Ferrigato told Cyclingnews on our recent visit to Rossano Veneto, home of Selle Italia. Ferrigato is now Selle Italia's team guy and the cheerful 36 year old native of Schio, Italy took us on a tour of Selle Italia's production facility as we visited the saddle company that prides itself on its slogan "Handmade In Italy Since 1897."

"After riding almost 300,000 km during my career, I knew that my saddle was important since I spent so much time there!" joked Ferrigato, who then explained that "Since I've been working at Selle Italia, I have learned how much development and engineering go in to making a saddle. We spend so much time and do so much testing at Selle Italia to make sure that the shape and materials are perfect and that the saddle can stand up to long hours in the saddle."


Cyclingnews recently spoke with De Marchi Sport president Mauro Coccia in San Vendimano, Italy, where he was proud to explain that, “It was over 60 years ago, my grandfather Emilio De Marchi founded our company and the same family has owned and operated De Marchi for three generations. Today, we still have the same mission as we did then; to design and create the best cycling clothing. ”

Coccia emphasized the innovation that is hallmark of De Marchi. “We've further refined the famous fit of our Contour Plus shorts and jerseys for the maximum in ergonomic tailoring and pure functionality ever found in cycling clothing. Then we carefully selected and matched the best fabrics and had top Italian artisans hand sew each Contour Plus garment. So believe that every Contour Plus garment is almost like a work of art.”


As a pallid late winter sun bathed the grimy industrial districts of Cusano Milanino, hard by Milano's chaotic tangenziale ring road, the fading rays glinted on gold accents on the elegant DeRosa Cinquanta displayed in window at the eponymous Italian artisan bike maker's shop. And next to the exclusive anniversary model, was DeRosa's latest two wheel thoroughbred, the Protos.

Ugo DeRosa's son Cristiano ushered us in and we sat down with Ugo and Cristiano to talk about the latest and greatest from DeRosa for 2006. We noted a photo of Ugo receiving an award and were told, "that was taken at La Scala", the iconic opera house in the very heart of Milano.


Acknowledged as the cutting edge in cycling short insert technology since its introduction several years ago, Elastic Interface Technology by CyTech is designed, developed and manufactured in Italy. Stemming from the long tradition of innovation in Italian cycling. CyTech originated and patented their "Elastic Interface Technology" after extensive research and development and wear testing to provide cycling short insert pads that provide complete comfort and optimum performance.

CyTech's passion and experience counts and goes back through three generations of cycling wear manufacturing in Italy. Before any new products using "Elastic Interface Technology" platform come down the pipeline to the consumer, CyTech puts them through a series of extensive wear testing, as well as road / off-road testing.


On a recent visit to saddle maker fi'zi:k, marketing manager Massimo Fregonese gave Cyclingnews a sneak preview of the new fi'zi:k advertising campaign featuring Damiano Cunego called "Il Piccolo Principe" (The Little Prince). Well known as a devoted fan of The Doors, when Cunego burst on to the cycling scene at the 2004 Giro d'Italia, his first nickname was "The Lizard King" but it didn't stick. His new nickname, after the children's tale by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, seems to be something he likes, so Fi'zi:k was inspired to use the famous tale.

Massimo Fregonese took Cyclingnews 'backstage' for the photoshoot with Cunego as he explained up front that, "It's not very often that you can spend some time with a pro cyclist, completely out of the racing environment and without them having to think about training, races, their results, the bike set up… all that kind of thing." After Massimo showed the concept of the ad campaign to Cunego, who liked what he saw, the wheels were put in motion. "We scheduled the photoshoot to happen just before Christmas and on December 23rd."


Like a colpo di fulmine (lightning bolt), Fulcrum Wheels hit the cycling world a few seasons ago and took the wheel market by storm. Since then, the Italian brand has made great strides towards becoming one of the top wheel marques worldwide. Not only are Fulcrum wheels first rate technically, but Fulcrum has a strong sponsorship program with powerful ProTour teams like Quick.Step, Saunier Duval and Panaria. Fulcrum wheels have innovative, cutting edge wheel technology and attractive Italian style.

A key feature of Fulcrum wheels is their Two to One Spoke Ratio design. Fulcrum says, "The rear wheel spoking has double spokes on the freewheel side, and this feature makes the wheel more rigid, with lower and more balanced spoke tension. When force is applied to the pedals, the rotation of the free wheel causes a slight slackening of the spokes, followed by a reduction in rim tension. This happens time and time again with each pedal stroke and causes energy loss."


When we walked into Giovanni Battaglin's Cicli Battaglin in Marostica, Italy for our Italia Bici visit, we saw one of the most unique, unusual Italian racing bicycles ever built. On display in Battaglin's newly renovated premises, the Pirana has a special might-have-been story. It was a beautiful May morning in Verona, Italy when Inoxpran bike sponsor Giovanni Battaglin rolled out what he hoped would be a secret weapon for team leader Roberto Visentini at the 1985 Giro d'Italia.

Battaglin and team wheel sponsor Giovanni Arrigoni had spent the last six months developing and testing a revolutionary new bicycle just for the 6.6km cronoprologo that finished in Verona's famous Arena. Climber Visentini was looking to get any advantage he could over World Hour Record holder Francesco Moser and Bernard Hinault. "We wanted to make a special bicycle that would have the best air penetration possible, the lowest Cx. We worked with an engineer that was an aerodynamic expert did some testing in a wind tunnel owned by the Gilera motorcycle company they used to test prototypes."