'Pantheon For Speed' Portrays Iconic Cyclists with Cartoonish Swagger

Eddy Merckx as The Cannibal.
Eddy Merckx as The Cannibal. | © Sam Taylor

Some of the finest cyclists to have ever lived have been given a spectacular makeover, thanks to illustrator Sam Taylor and his Pantheon For Speed project.

Eddy Merckx, Sean Kelly, Roger De Vlaeminck, Mario Cipollini and Marco Pantani all feature in the project, with Taylor honing in on the riders’ nicknames and specialities. “Eddy Merckx being ‘The Cannibal’ and Marco Pantani being called ‘Il Pirata‘ is an illustrator’s dream, there’s so much to go on,” Taylor says. “They’re all larger than life as it is and have so much character that it was quite easy to be honest. I just had to emphasise all the little details and make them visually pleasing.”

The greatest riders together for The Last Supper.

According to Taylor, it’s the variety that makes them special: “You have Super Mario chilling on a beach and Roger De Vlaeminck charging through cobbles in the wet,” he says. ” They’re at different ends of the spectrum but somehow they go together perfectly as a team. You need that ying and yang.”

The project came about after Manual For Speed got in touch with Taylor asking for some of the greatest cyclists of all time to be brought together “in some sort of god-like council, where their job is to govern cycling from the clouds and make sure it gets better.” Taylor explains, “They picked the cyclists and then I did a bunch of research about each guy, I knew the basics about most of them anyway but YouTube and Google definitely helped me get a better understanding of what each guy is about.”

Roger De Vlaeminck as The Gypsy.

Taylor admits he was far from an aficionado in regards to professional cycling, more interested in football and skateboarding, with the latter having “a number of similarities”. Not surprisingly, his interest grew because of the sport’s visuals and his own imagination. He explains: “I like having the Tour de France on in the background — the ITV coverage is great, loads of nice scenic shots and history of the regions. Then I got more and more into the actual cycling, especially the relationship between the individual and the team, with each person using their own skills to come together for a common goal. It’s like X-Men or The Magnificent Seven. The unsung heroes and the glory guys working together like Ian Stannard putting in the grit for Chris Froome.”

Originally from Leicester, Taylor is now based in London. His distinctive style is based on classic cartoons, but with satirical and brazen panache. While his work covers far more than cycling, this particular project ensures the protagonists’ flaws, traits and flamboyance and heightened in the extreme.

Marco Pantani as Il Pirata.
Sean Kelly as King Kelly.
Mario Cipollini as Super Mario.
Eddy Merckx as The Cannibal.
landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Winter Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

Edit article