The Italian supermarket chain Mercatone Uno had already been in the professional peloton for a number of years but 1998 was the year that team changed to Bianchi bikes, which they continued to do so until the end of 2001.
With the arrival of Bianchi, came the arrival of the iconic celeste colour. The previous year's team jersey had a really great combination of blue and yellow (with matching Wilier team bikes) but most people remember the 1998 version due to Marco Pantani's achievement of winning both the Giro and the Tour in the same year.
After Pantani's victory in the Giro, the team jerseys were changed to contain more celeste and less yellow in order that they were not confused with the race's leaders yellow jersey.
This jersey is an officially made replica of the Giro D'Italia team jersey that Marco Pantani wore, made by the official team clothing supplier Santini. To this day, one of Pantani's Bianchi yellow and celeste team bikes is on display in Santini's reception in Bergamo, Italy.
Prendas have sold various Mercatone Uno items (jerseys, bib shorts, caps, bandanas, keyrings, t-shirts - even mouse mats!) for many years. This jersey was first sold by us back in 2008 when Santini reproduced the kit for the tenth anniversary of Pantani's Giro/Tour double
The last appearance of the kit in the Prendas retro peloton was in May 2015, when we re-ordered a very small amount. Additionally, we sold a rather nice t-shirt that Santini produced for their own 50th anniversary in 2015 which was sold alongside the Mapei, Peugeot and Giro designs.
We were also responsible for supplying some period-accurate clothing to New Black Films' Marco Pantani documentary Pantani: The Accidental Death of a Cyclist (2014) that they produced.
Finally, if you are curious about the sad story of Marco Pantini, I can heartily recommend the thoroughly researched The Death of Marco Pantini by Matt Rendell is available in paperback priced under a tenner.
Prominent riders of the Mercatone Uno Bianchi 1998 cycling team: