Last up on the countdown to the 2016 Giro D’Italia is the Rapha + Paul Smith Maglia Nera jersey. If there was anything rarer than a unicorn, this might be it. It seems to exist only in pictures and dreams now.
Originally sold in a very limited run in April 2013, the Maglia Nera jersey is the last and the pinnacle of the collaborations between Rapha and longtime cycling fan Paul Smith that ran from for 3 years from 2010 through 2013. The jersey was listed for originally $230USD and sold out overnight. Never to be repeated. Even the Rapha website no longer contains any information about the jersey. Only adding to its mystique. This was the link to the original page.
The history of the Maglia Nera itself is that the black jersey of the Giro celebrated the last rider to finish the race from 1946 through 1951. Like to the Lantern Rouge of the Tour De France, the Maglia Nera is for the one who endured and suffered knowing their only reward would be to finish. Some say that riders went to great lengths to try and win the Maglia Nera. Hiding in bushes, bars, and staging mechanical failures all to lose time to other riders.
The Rapha + Paul Smith Maglia Nera jersey is constructed of Merino smartwool and from a distance it looks like the classic Rapha Club Jersey, which it is based on. It’s a half zip style jersey in predominantly black with the high vis pink accents. A color palette Rapha has come to be known for. Look closer and you’ll see all the special details the collaboration brings to this jersey. The Maglia Nera has taped seams,a tone on tone reflective polka dot pattern adorning the back, and perforated high vis pink branding on the rear pocket. The jersey comes with a pin on #81 to commemorate Luigi Malaborocca who wore the jersey two years in a row.
Surprisingly even photos of the jersey seem to be hard to find outside stock images that were released by Rapha at the time for press coverage. I’ve taken the images here from mine. It’s the crown jewel in my jersey collection and thus is treated as such. It’s never to be worn.