Road Tripping Through Italy Part 3: Wilier And Carrera

(Photo: Yuzuru Sunada)


Few bike brands are as tied to their nation’s politics as Wilier Trestina. Founded in 1906, the company name originated as an acronym for the phrase ‘W l’Italia liberata e redenta’ (Long live Italy, liberated and redeemed) with the Trestina name alluding to Italy’s post-World War II territorial trifle with Yugoslavia over the city of Trieste (see page 16). While the bike factory closed its doors in 1952, it was reopened in 1969 when the grandfather of current manager Andrea Gastaldello took a chance on reviving the brand. Who would guess that forty years later the brand would enjoy its greatest success when Alessandro Ballan rode his Lampre-backed Wilier to a rainbow jersey at the 2008 world championships in Verona?

Still flush with the recent world championship road victory of Ballan, we caught up with Andrea Gastaldello and his dad Lino. The Gastaldello family had helped Ballan get hired by Lampre in 2003 when he made the jump from the amateur to Pro ranks.

It was obvious from our factory tours that Marco Pantani is still highly revered among his partisan fans. His old race bikes were found in more than a few showrooms, including Wilier’s.

Besides the retail shop and assembly line, the Wilier factory is home to an impressive museum full of bikes that help make up the brand’s nearly 100-year history.

Wilier’s contemporary carbon bike and rainbow jerseys are pre-dated by a long, rich history in racing.

Not as well-known to American cyclists as are many of his contemporaries, Davide Boifava nonetheless has a well-established history in the sport. And while like many other successful bike makers Davide enjoyed a career as a racer in a pro career (1969-1973) that included stage wins in the Giro d’Italia, and wins at the Tour of Luxembourg and Romagna, his most notable success in the sport came as manager of the Inoxpran and Carerra teams. It was in 1987 that, along with Stephen Roche, Davide found his greatest success when the plucky Irishman won that rarest of cycling trifectas; the Tour de France, the Giro d’Italia and the world championships.

After previously being supplied bikes by Battaglin, in 1989 Boifava created the Carrera bike brand as a means of extending the Carrera name beyond the team’s title sponsorship. Although Carrera would eventually leave the sport in 1996, the brand carried on under Boifava’s direction, and in 2008 they sold about 2500 bikes. All the bikes are made in Italy, since, as Boifava said as we looked over his small production line, ‘We’re bicycle builders. If you go to China to get bikes made, you become a bicycle buyer.’

With a pair of the famous ‘denim’ lycra shorts (first seen in 1987) draped over his shoulder, the legendary Davide Boifava stands with his right-hand man and former Carrera team mechanic Luciano Bracchi along with the latest Carrera entry, the Phibra.

Carrera’s home base is located near Brescia and houses both Davide Boifava’s retail store up front and the small manufacturing space in back.

The wall says it all.

Davide remains a fierce Marco Pantani partisan, and so it was fitting to find a shrine of sorts dedicated to him inside the Carrera showroom.

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