Don’t miss out on the latest CyclingTips updates.
If you were watching closely during the men’s road race at the world championships, you might have noticed that Joaquim Rodriguez and Luca Paolini were wearing rather unique-looking helmets. The artwork on those riders’ helmets was the work of Stefano Barzaghi, an Italian artist who’s worked with a number of top cyclists in recent years.
Shortly after the world championships we got an email from Stefano asking if we’d like to feature some of his work on CyclingTips. We were very interested and so we asked Stefano a bit about what he does.
Stefano’s been working as an airbrusher since 1999 but it was in 2006 that he first started working in cycling. That year he designed a helmet for Luca Paolini to wear during the world championships in Austria. The eventual winner of that race, Paolo Bettini, saw Paolini’s helmet and asked Stefano if he could paint him one in the colours of the world champion.
Bettini was so happy with the result — a helmet with the rainbow colours and splashes of gold — that he asked Stefano to paint his bikes for 2007.
Throughout that season many cyclists noticed and commented on Bettini’s bikes and Stefano found himself working with a whole list of pro cyclists: Tom Boonen, Vincenzo Nibali, Filippo Pozzato, Michael Rogers, Enciro Gasparotto, Daniele Bennati, Giovanni Visconti, Franco Pellizotti, Danilo Di Luca and, as mentioned, Joaquim Rodriguez and Luca Paolini.
In most cases the riders give Stefano the freedom to do whatever he likes with the design. Such was the case with the helmets he designed for Joaquim Rodriguez and Luca Paolini.
He painted Florence’s coat of arms onto Paolini’s helmet, as a kind of dedication to the city that would play host to the race. For Rodriguez’s helmet he opted for a little cigar. Rodriguez’s nickname, “El Purito”, translates to “the cigar”.
Stefano normally only paints bikes and helmets for special races — the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia, the Vuelta, Paris-Roubaix, the World Championships and so on. He recalls having to work late at night during the Tour de France on occasion because a team has requested a yellow bike for their leader and they need it the next morning.
You can see more of Stefano’s work below and at his website.