Santini’s Co Mayo designer, Fergus Niland adds Irish twist to Giro 2014 Maglia Rosa

Posted on: January 23rd, 2014

Santini’s Irish designer Fergus Niland has given the 2014 Maglia Rosa and Irish twist with a small shamrock on the right side panel.

 

 

By Brian Canty

From entering a competition to design a jersey for World Tour team Vacansoleil-DCM in 2011to being responsible for the design of the four classification leaders’ jerseys at this year’s Giro d’Italia, it’s been quite a roller-coaster for Mayo man Fergus Niland.

The 31-year-old from the village of Tavanaghmore between Castlebar and Ballina had been working as a freelance designer up until 2011 when he entered a competition run by international cycling clothing manufacturer Santini SMS.

His Vacansoleil design won and within six months he was ironing out a contract with the company.

“You plan nothing, you just catch a wave and go with it,” laughs Niland about his progress in recent years.

He is now the head of product development with Santini SMS and his work will be displayed to a global audience when the Giro d’Italia gets underway in Belfast on Friday.

“It’s a dream come true for me,” he told stickybottle from his base in Bergamo.

“It’s a very niche business what I’m into, it’s a small community globally and I’ve dedicated my life to designing gear.

“It’s something I’ve bought into wholesale, that’s what I am and that’s what I do so it is a dream come true for me. It doesn’t get any bigger than this. The Giro is special, it’s a special race and has its own histories and traditions and I’m very proud to be a part of it.”

Niland originally trained as a fine artist in painting at the National College of Art & Design (NCAD) in Dublin. After graduating, he worked as an exhibiting artist through his early twenties before uprooting from Dublin to the west coast of Ireland.

The move inspired him to combine his life-long love of cycling, triathlon, and fashion with his creative talents; initially working on a freelance basis, he cultivated a strong roster of both domestic and international clients within the cycling and multi-sport industries.

When he won the competition to design the Vacansoleil jersey for 2012 his career took a massive leap forward.

How he managed to be the one putting his own individual touches on the famed maglia rosa is little more than good fortune, but he’s not complaining for a second.

“There was a few options floating around for the 2014 Giro about who would design it and one of the options at the beginning was me. But I wouldn’t have been top of the list to be very honest.

“However, the way things worked out, there were meetings with Giro organisers RCS Sport and there were guys backing me within the company here in Santini. RCS said it fit that we had an Irish designer and I got the nod, simple as that.”

He has given a nod to the Irish start by including a discreet shamrock down the side of the leader’s pink jersey and said the opportunity to put his touches to such an iconic garment in the very year the race is visiting his home country is amazing for him.

Niland also pointed out he would be delighted to give any Irish road racing enthusiasts who are in Bergamo for whatever reason a full guided tour of the company for free.

On show there include rare items of memorabilia such as Marco Pantani’s bikes and vintage cycling jerseys worn by the greats of the sport. He can be contacted on fergus.niland@santinisms.it

Darach McQuaid of sports marketing firm Shadetree Sports, which has helped put RCS together with the Irish agencies fund the Giro’s visit here, said a line of merchandise for the 2014 would be rolled out in the weeks ahead.

 

The jersey from the opposite side with the Giro logo in the side panelling; they should be plenty of demand for these when the race hits Irish shores.

 

 

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