Giovanni "Nani" Pinarello, 1922-2014. Photo...

Giovanni “Nani” Pinarello, founder and innovator, dies at 92

Giovanni “Nani” Pinarello, the charismatic founder of one of the world’s iconic cycling brands, died Thursday. He was 92.

Cycling has lost a grandfather.

Giovanni “Nani” Pinarello, the charismatic founder of the iconic cycling brand that bears his name, died Thursday. He was 92.

Pinarello, born in the northern Italian town of Catena di Villorba as the eighth of 12 brothers, rode as a professional from 1946 to 1953, taking wins in the Giro delle Dolomiti and Rome-Naples-Rome.

He was most famous for his time at the opposite end of the peloton, as the winner of the maglia nera, or black jersey, which was awarded to the final finisher of the Giro d’Italia.

“Nani,” as he was fondly called, won the maglia nera in 1951, in a time when the distinction was quite prestigious. The following year, he was removed from the Giro roster at the last moment, and as consolation was awarded 100,000 lire (approximately $160 USD at the time) by his team. He used that money to open a small workshop, intending to build his own bicycles.

The shop was opened in Treviso in 1953 and the rest, of course, is history. Pinarello bikes won its first Giro d’Italia in 1975, and from that launch pad became one of the most popular brands in cycling.

Giovanni Pinarello was succeeded at his company by his son Fausto, who manages the brand to this day.