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  • Washing cotton caps - some simple guidelines

    Here at Prendas we're big fans of the classic and iconic cycling cap (or "casquette" depending on your preferred lingo). On the bike, off the bike, down the pub or on the podium we think its an important part of cycling's history and culture.

    prendas_caps_banner

    The introduction of compulsory helmet wear in the peloton had seen the cap mostly disappear from the pro circuit and has therefore seen less and less riders and teams sporting them, instead preferring poorly made baseball caps with unoriginal designs being worn in their place when on the podium. Through its demise Prendas continued to sell cotton caps and are still offering a wide range today. A new cap delivery is usually the quickest to be opened so that we can see the new designs!

    Despite its gradual disappearance from pro cycling, the cap is always a must have item for hundreds of our customers whether as part of our 4 for £25 deal or as an add on with a jersey.

    In fact more and more people now seem to want to wear the cap due to the heightened interest in cycling history and via riders such as Mark Cavendish remaining loyal to the cap throughout his career. Its allure has definitely rubbed off on people eager to get caught up in cycling culture.

    Due to this, one of the most common emails we see more and more in our inbox each morning is from an unlucky soul who has incorrectly washed their casquette!  A repeat offender is the La Vie Claire cap with the original Tyvek ribbon from the 80's.

    We appreciate the efforts of our cap supplier to keep this cap as authentic and original as possible. In fact its still produced the same way it was 30 years ago, albeit with an updated composition.

    All of the caps we bought from Italy up to about 5 years ago were 100% cotton, hence the name. But in recent years the composition has changed to a 65% / 35% split in favour of Polyester. This updated composition helps the cap hold its shape and prevent excessive creasing. But without due care the ribbon can literally lose its colour after one cycle or wash.

    La Vie Claire Tyvek Ribbon 1Caps take on a multitude of sweat, dirt and grime with constant use so obviously you want to keep them clean and maintained to retain the fresh look they have straight out of the factory. In fact, Prendas now produce all of our own brand caps with an anti-bacterial ribbon inside which helps wick sweat faster and feels less abrasive on your head.

    Small production runs of caps can also add a "collectors" nature to various designs out there so you don't want to see a new addition come out of the wash faded, damaged and lifeless after one use.

    The label contained inside our cotton caps will tell you that they are suitable for machine washing, but Prendas recommend avoiding this if you have any uncertainty of the results. Whilst this doesn't apply to all caps, we don't recommend it as many factors can come into play that could damage your cap such as the machine its being washed in and the items being washed with it. A cap thrown in with lots of other clothing can also wash the colours and damage or snap your peak, which is another common side effect in cap aftercare.

    In our experience the best way to keep your caps looking new after a long ride is to do a quick, cool hand wash only (30 deg max) with a very mild detergents. This might not get rid of excessive dirt and road spray but it will remove the worst of it along with the buildup of sweat and ensure the cap is comfortable to wear on the next ride. After the wash just simply hang them up to dry. Tumble drying and ironing is also a big no no if you're unsure of the results.

    Following these simple guidelines and using a bit of common sense will ensure your caps stay looking fresh for a long time even after repeated use.

    Looking after your cotton cycling cap

    To summarise, when washing cotton caps:

    • Cool hand wash only (30 deg max)
    • Do not machine wash (despite the inside label)
    • Do not dry clean
    • Do not tumble dry
    • Do not iron!

     

    Thanks for reading!

  • Eroica Wool Jerseys arrive at Prendas!

    New for 2015, Santini have an L'Eroica branded collection that is inspired by some iconic wool retro jerseys preserved in their archives.

    We will not stock all of the items from this collection, but we are very happy to stock the Maglia Rosa Wool Retro Jersey and also the Italian Champion Wool Retro Jersey that are both part of the "Racing Heritage" range giving riders the chance to wear a highly accurate garment for the event.

    L'Eroica Wool Jerseys

    2015-05-11-santini-x-eroica-giro-d-italia-pink-maglia-rosa-wool-retro-jersey-ER1114ROSA_FRONT L'EROICA MAGLIA ROSA WOOL RETRO JERSEY - SHORT SLEEVE
    2015-05-11-santini-x-eroica-italian-champion-wool-jersey-ER1114ITALIA_FRONT L'EROICA ITALIAN CHAMPION WOOL RETRO JERSEY - SHORT SLEEVE

    Whilst it would be easy to copy and paste a load of marketing spiel, I thought it would be nice to feature a few jerseys that we've sold over the years that are directly linked to these two new eroica wool jerseys.

    Santini teams catalogue from 1996 showing fausto coppi jerseys

    Let's go way back to 1996 when Santini featured in their catalogue some fabulous team jerseys made from wool (L Guerra/Ursus, Atala/Pirelli, Bianchi/Ursus, Carpano/Coppi and Legnano/Pirelli) that they produced to be used during the 1995 production of RAI's 'Il Grande Fausto' film that was made for TV.

    Page from Santini's 1996 catalogue with some stills from RAI's film

    Amongst the team jerseys, there was also a pink wool jersey (maglia rosa lana) from the Giro D'Italia, the yellow jersey from the Tour de France and a replica of the Italian National Team jersey of the 1950s.

    Here you can see the Maglia Rosa

    At the time, Prendas did not sell these jerseys as the market for wool retro jerseys was not at all developed as the new, sublimated polyester was all our customers wanted.

    Fast forward to 2004 and we opted to sell a similar product that Santini offered as "Maglia Storica", Historical Jerseys.  These featured double pockets on the front, three buttoned rear pockets and a button up collar whilst being made of a 80% Wool / 20% Acrylic mix.

    2015-05-12-old-santini-teams-catalogue-from-2004

    2015-05-12-old-prendas-procycling-magazine-advert-from-2004

    Here you can see our advertisement from the Procycling Magazine with the pink and black jerseys celebrating the Giro D'Italia to compliment the Bianchi wool retro jersey that we were selling.

    At the time, these jerseys were not uber-popular, but as we try to offer something that our competitors do not - which we still do to this day - we eventually sold them all in the lead up to Christmas.

    Over time since 2004, retro wool jerseys have made a significant comeback largely thanks to events like L'Eroica, but in part also due to retro being popular in non-cycling high street fashion and of course due to those Rapha types in London.

    Fausto Coppi's 70th anniversary!

    In 2010, we sold these stunning, limited edition wool jerseys from Santini celebrating the 70th anniversary of Fausto Coppi's victory in the Giro D'Italia.

    Whilst the pink wool jersey was limited to 500 pieces world wide (we were lucky enough to get hold of 86 to re-sell) we commissioned the black version which was exclusively available from us and sold extremely well.    Both garments were sold within 3 months of arriving.

    The simply stunning, limited edition wool jerseys from Santini celebrating the 70th anniversary of fausto coppi's victory in the Giro D'Italia.

     

    Fast forward to 2015, we hope you like the Maglia Rosa Wool Retro Jersey that is now in our range.   Whilst we do concentrate on selling retro jerseys in modern fabrics for all to enjoy, but we do also sell a small selection of wool retro jerseys from Santini.

    It would be nice to think that somebody will enjoy riding their old steel bicycle whilst wearing an Eroica wool jersey that they purchased from us!   Maybe send us a photo if you do, we'd happily feature it on our Twitter and Facebook feeds.

  • Issue 75 – Special Edition Filippo Pozzato Italian Champion Jersey and Bibshorts

    When these special edition black Filippo 'Pippo' Pozzato Italian champion jerseys arrived at Prendas in December 2009 all chaos broke out!

    pippo-neroSantini produced a one-off skinsuit for Sgnr Pozzato for a charity cycle-cross race "Move to Improve" that was organised by Tom Boonen and Wilfried Peeters in Mol, Belgium.

    Of course Belgium is the spiritual home for cyclo-cross in Europe, but this event held in Boonen's home town featured a number of top road riders on a sandy course to raise thousands of Euros at the race and also a charity dinner the day before - with no doubt the odd Duval consumed!

    You have to remember that this was 2009!   Although Twitter and Facebook were about, the levels of information were nowhere near as good as cyclingnews.com was - which meant we visited the site 3-4 times every day for the latest news.

    So when the photo appeared, it took all of about 60 seconds before an email was fired off to Santini asking permission for us to commission a limited run of black Pozzato italian champion jersey and bib shorts.  After a bit of email ping-pong, an order was on the system and would be in production at the end of November!

    katusha-pozzatto-black-special-edition-santini-retro-jersey-with-matching-bib-shorts

    The special edition Filippo Pozzato Italian Champion jerseys arrive!

    As luck would have it, the first delivery to this highly anticipated Pozzato italian champion jersey and bib shorts arrived on the 14th December 2009 which meant we had many happy customers getting their kit in time for Christmas!

    pozz_ne_chaosTimes have changed now, the Prendas custom-made dispatch system is now highly developed and easily copes with hundreds of orders per day, but back then it was a pretty manually intensive exercise getting 100+ orders out in a day.

    Unfortunately, demand was such that we ran out within 3 days and then had to re-order twice, on the third delivery the matching long sleeve jersey and track mitts/summer gloves also arriving in June the following year.

    katusha-pozzatto-black-special-edition-santini-long-sleeve-jersey-with-cycling-gloves-mitts

    Pippo then later wore the kit in the 2010 Paris Roubaix as a tribute to the late Franco Ballerini, not sure he saw the kit on our website, maybe he did!  If you were not aware of how the "standard" white Italian Champion kit looked like, here's a photo I took at the 2009 Tour of Britain with him looking suitably Italian on the start line before the off!

    pippo-tob-2009

    Although the Pozzato italian champion jerseys, gloves and bib shorts are long gone and are no longer available to purchase we do still have the Prendas own-brand matching cotton cycling cap and Italian Champion Coolmax socks that were created at the time for our customers to get the complete look!

    matching-prendas-socks-and-cotton-cap

    Whilst researching this blog article, I was delighted to find this photo of me with two Dan's
    (and Irish Champion Nicholas Roche) that we are still in touch with and we are happy to consider friends.  Step forward Dan Fleeman and Daniel Lloyd.

    tob-2009-flee-lloydy-roche

  • Issue 73 – Retro Team Del Tongo Colnago Jersey and Bibshorts

    If you look at the blog articles that we recently put together that feature retired products, you'll perhaps notice that any kit that is predominately yellow tends not to sell as well as others.

    It's not just us, you only have to look at the stock availability of a popular product that is available in a variety of colours, it's normally yellow that's left over.  This is one of the reasons why we will not be stocking the commemorative jersey from this years Gran Fondo Internazionale Felice Gimondi which we have done for most editions.

    Perhaps it's the association of the leaders yellow jersey (maillot jaune) for the Tour de France? Who knows!  Back to the Del Tongo Colnago Jersey!

    The Del Tongo Colnago jersey was in the European pro peloton for a number of years and they had a variety of different clothing manufacturers too!  Parentini, Castelli and Santini all sponsored the team with Santini making the kit from 1985 to 1991 - clothing world champion Maurizio Fondriest in 1989.

    2015-04-02-archive-del-tongo-fondriest

    Our replica  Del Tongo Colnago Jersey and Bibshorts

    Made from modern fabrics, the jersey design featured accurate Del Tongo and Colnago logos and came with three rear pockets and a 14cm short front zip to maintain the authentic look.

    2015-04-02-del-tongo-colnago-santini-retro-jersey-with-matching-bib-shorts

    The matching bib shorts were produced with two different seat pads (Coolmax and the most expensive TwistGel) and mesh braces.   We also had a long sleeve version with the colours reversed out as well as a matching cotton cap.

    2015-04-02-del-tongo-colnago-santini-retro-long-sleeve-jersey-and-cotton-cycling-cap

    Here's one of our favourite  riders - Franco Ballerini - in action aboard a Pinarello as in 1989 the team swapped from Colnago to the other Italian marque.  On the left hand side, you can see the world cup leaders jersey of the time Gianni Bugno in the background.2015-04-02-del-tongo-franco-ballerini

    Why can't I buy the Del Tongo Colnago jersey anymore?

    It's a long story, but we're pretty sure the Del Tongo Colnago jersey will never re-appear in the "Prendas retro peloton"!   Sorry to disappoint.

  • Issue 72 - Retro Team Raleigh/Banana Jersey & Cap

    Although not as iconic as the TI Raleigh retro jersey that we sell, we still think the Raleigh Banana jersey design is a classic from the 1980s - often seen on the front of the bunch during the televised city centre racing that was so popular.

    We approached Raleigh UK after we decided we'd like to reproduce the Raleigh Banana jersey and we were delighted to find they were happy to draw up an agreement between us and them.

    Both Geoff Giddings and Mervyn Jones were instrumental in making this project happen, without their co-operation and invaluable assistance, we suspect it would have failed at the first hurdle like so many of our trademark and copyright requests often do.

    Raleigh Banana featured in the Winning Magazine

    Getting the design finalised was pretty easy as Mick's vast collection of Winning Magazines contained various photos that gave us an excellent starting point.   Santini actually made the original team kit but did not have any original garments in their archive that we could reference.

    Raleigh Banana jersey arrives!

    The Raleigh Banana jersey arrived at the Prendas HQ in the middle of July 2010 just before Santini broke up for their summer vacations and we were delighted with the result!

    The Raleigh Banana Retro Jersey made by Santini with all the sponsor logos such as Reynolds, Campagnolo, Sturmey Archer and EliteThe matching cotton caps arrive a couple of weeks later - the design of the cap matching the jersey perfectly with the two different blue and yellow sides the opposite of the jersey.

    Raleigh Banana Cotton Cycling Cap

    Alls well that ends well!

    Although the Raleigh Banana jersey is no longer available at Prendas Ciclismo to buy, we do sell the Rocket Espresso kit that benefits the Dave Rayner fund by £10 for every jersey and pair of bib shorts that is sold!

    So far, we've donated in excess of £5,000!

    Dave Rayner in action during his early career.

  • Issue 71 - Retro Team KAS Jersey and Bibshorts

    Sean Kelly floating over the cobbles in the Spring Classics in the iconic KAS jerseyEtxeondo produced the original KAS team clothing in the 1980's and it had been on the top of our "retro peloton" list for some time.

    Over the years, we requested Etxeondo to reproduce this classic maillot but were always disappointed when we were told that Etxeondo were not interested in reproducing jerseys from their glorious past.

    It was really important for us to get the original manufacturer to make it for us as we felt the Etxeondo logo was an important part of the appeal.

    Eventually, we decided to back them into corner. A rather long winded and labour intensive project meant eventually we gained permission from PepsiCo to use the KAS logo on a retro jersey. PepsiCo own the name and still make a KAS product to this day!

    2015-03-19-original-sean-kelly-kas-jerseyAlthough Etxeondo have a great heritage in supplying pro teams - they didn't actually have an original pro issue team jersey at the headquarters, so it was amazing to find out that the big man himself lent them one from his archive.

    No prizes for guessing who's jersey this was when it came out of the washing machine!

     

    Progress in production....

    KAS Jersey is seen here in production at Etxeondo. The replica KAS Jersey is seen here in production at Etxeondo after having been sublimated and cut - ready for stitching!

    So the KAS jersey started to make their way from a request to actual product!  After a few issues along the way were resolved (don't ask!) we were delighted to see progress of the KAS jerseys in production!

    We also decided to commission Etxeondo to make us some matching KAS retro bib shorts too.  At the time we were selling a great deal of the DICOLOR bib short model from Etxendo, so it made sense to base the bib short on that.

    Made with out of LycraSport, with flexible mesh braces, the Behar Elastic Chamios and a super-keen price point, we were sure that at least a third of the people buying the jersey would enjoy some matching bib shorts.

     

    The KAS jersey & bib shorts have arrived!

    KAS Jersey by Etxeondo

     

    Once the hundreds of jerseys and bib shorts had finally arrived (February 2011 for those with an eye for detail), had been counted and were put up on the old Prendas website sales started arriving over night with customers happy to emulate the look of Sean Kelly, Acacio Da Silva, Pascal Richard, Jörg Müller, Jean-Luc Vandenbroucke et al.

     

    The matching KAS retro bib shorts

    Why can't I buy a KAS jersey then?

    Unfortunately, we no longer have a trading agreement with Etxeondo, so it is a product that will almost certainly never re-appear in the "Prendas retro peloton" sorry to say - however Sean Kelly does features in the Les memoires du peloton Retro Postcard Pack!

    If you are a Sean Kelly fan, we'd heartily recommend a copy of Lionel Birnie's Hunger.

     

    Mick at Etxeondo with Sean Kelly's original jersey.  Note the old zip puller and MAVIC logo that was omitted from the replica jersey. Photo: Ramon Mendiburu. Mick at Etxeondo with Sean Kelly's original jersey. Note the old zip puller and MAVIC logo that was omitted from the replica jersey. Photo: Ramon Mendiburu.
  • Rouleur’s Favourite Shirts: GiS Gelati Jersey

    Here is a photograph of a Gis Gelati Cotton Cycling CapDreaming of Gelati

    My first cycling magazine had the most memorable front cover. It was Spring 1981 and the picture was of Giuseppe Saronni somewhere in Northern Europe, resplendent in the Italian national champion’s jersey, astride a beautiful wine red Colnago Super. The champion had ventured out of his comfort zone, turning his back on the warmer climate and smoother tarmac of his homeland, in search of glory in more brutal conditions. His immaculate bike, brightly-coloured kit and tanned legs were in stark contrast to the infamous cobblestones and monochrome hues of the classics.

    I absorbed all the information from that cover like a sponge. Every detail was noted from the white cloth bar tape to the water bottle with insulated jacket. How the brake cables were routed, the type of rims used and how the toe straps were fed through the pedals and terminated – it all jumped out at me from the page.

    The concept of sponsorship had never registered, but as I was drawn closer and closer to the European racing scene, odd foreign-sounding names became etched in my mind.

    One Sunday, pressed up against the window of Tony Butterworth’s shop in Sheffield, I saw my first Colnago, and things would never be the same again. I wasted no time. It would be mine – how I was going to afford to buy it was another matter altogether – and I would not only need all the bits to build it, I was going to need a new wardrobe, too.

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    In a sea of random jerseys and jackets at Butterworth’s just one stood out, as much for its simplicity and clean design as for its relevance to my steed-to-be, the white woollen body contrasting with red and blue flocking stripes. “GIS GELATI” emblazoned across the chest, “Campagnolo” down the sides, and the cloverleaf logos sealed the deal.  I immediately thought of Saronni on his Colnago.

    My first trade jersey was a source of some amusement to my mother, though. “Gelati!” she said. “I bet you don’t even know what it means.” “Ice cream,” I replied indignantly, much to her surprise.

    “Why do you want to ride around advertising ice cream?” she asked. “In fact, why do you want to ride around covered in writing, full stop?”

    I did not bother to justify myself.

    I loved that jersey and still do. It reminds me of how much each outing in it meant. As I pedalled around the Peak District on my fully kitted-out Colnago, just like Giuseppe’s, my mind would wander, and I would be transported to a climb in the Giro and dreaming of a life as a pro. After each ride I would insist on my favourite jersey being washed, ready for the next day, and I lost count of how many times I wore it. Although wearing a bit thin, it has held up surprisingly well considering it is 26 years old. I am just not so sure I could get in it these days, but there’s no harm in dreaming.

    Rohan Dubash

     

    RLR_issue10_cover Rouleur Issue 10

    This article has been reproduced with the very kind Permission of Rouleur.  Originally published in Issue 10, with a subsequent follow up in issue 12, we really enjoyed the varied essays from the various Rouleur contributors.

    We are delighted to say that Issue 53 (on sale 12th March 2015) will feature a Prendas Ciclismo double-page advertisement with everything that's new for Spring.

    If you wish to save money on an annual subscription to the magazine, please take a look here where you can get a 10% discount and a free Rouleur Notebook.

  • Rouleur’s Favourite Shirts: Cafe de Colombia Jersey

    Here is a photograph of a Cafe de Colombia jerseyThe Cafés in Colombia  

    In July 1984, two years before Channel 4 embraced Le Tour and brought it to our living rooms on a daily basis, the institution that was ITV’s World of Sport sometimes showed minority sports, which included Tour highlights on a Saturday afternoon.

    Featuring in this rare glimpse of televised cycling were Robert Millar, Pedro Delgado and Jean-René Bernaudeau, who were in a break on stage 11 from Pau to Guzet-Neige. It was a classic, which Millar won. Here were riders from the traditional European scene, but that day they had a mysterious companion –
    the darkly tanned, waif-like Colombian Luis Herrera, riding in the Colombian national jersey.

    His simple red, blue and yellow top wasn’t the most technically advanced. Long and weighed down with pockets full of cargo (spare tubulars, a tool kit and bananas, which were no doubt Fairtrade) meant that the hem of the garment nearly touched the back wheel. No matter – I was taken with the colour scheme and the brave endeavours of this imposter from outside the heartlands of pro cycling.

    “Lucho” went on to win that year on L’Alpe D’Huez ensuring that the Colombianos got invited back for 1985. By this time, they had sponsors on board – their nation’s Federación Nacional de Cafeteros, or Café de Colombia – plus Alan bike frames with Mavic groupsets and tubulars from Wolber. What a turnaround. They also sported this new striking pro-team maillot from kit kings Assos.

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    My wife and I journeyed to Le Tour in 1985, doing the initial stages in Brittany in a trusty Renault 4 which was transport and accommodation rolled in to one. We had developed a warm affinity for the Colombians, and although we didn’t see them at the front too much in Brittany, we had enough sightings for me to know that this was a jersey I had to have.

    Rooks_leaders_880718_OFSHerrera was untouchable in the mountains during that Tour, although he was prone to crashing out on descents, as were most of his team. But “los Colombianos” had duly arrived in the pro peloton, and I was still searching in vain for that jersey. Herrera won the King Of The Mountains competition by a huge margin from Delgado and Millar, with Hererra’s junior teammate Fabio Parra taking the prize for best young rider (ironic, as he looked the elder of the two). Yet there was no sign of this mythical maillot on the concession stands of the Tour as Assos didn’t commercialise their pro-team kit, but there were countless knock-offs of varying quality, and on my return home I bagged one mail-order.

    During the next few years, the Café de Colombia jersey went through a few makeovers, becoming predominately white with the addition of the Juan Valdez logo and his mule Cochita. A particularly tasteful edition was provided by Vittore Gianni, the company which was the forerunner to Castelli. The team ceased to exist at the end of the ’80s but the Café de Colombia name was still seen at the Tour for a few more years as sponsor of the KoM competition.

    As the years passed, my treasured Café de Colombia jersey was relegated to the back of a drawer. It saw the light of day once again when my teacher at Spanish evening classes turned out to be Colombian and very knowledgeable about his country’s Tour de France success in the ’80s. I had “grown out” of the jersey so I had it framed and gave it to him one Christmas.

    I thought that was the end, until, to my great delight, I found commercially-available versions of the classic 1985 jersey at a store in the Colombian city of Medellin while on holiday in 2006. After all those years, salvation was again mine, which tops and tails my quest neatly.

    Eso es todo, amigos.

    Mick Tarrant –  www.prendas.co.uk

     

     

    RLR_issue10_cover Rouleur Issue 10

    This article has been reproduced with the very kind Permission of Rouleur.  Originally published in Issue 10, with a subsequent follow up in issue 12, we really enjoyed the varied essays from the various Rouleur contributors.

    We are delighted to say that Issue 53 (on sale 12th March 2015) will feature a Prendas Ciclismo double-page advertisement with everything that's new for Spring.

    If you wish to save money on an annual subscription to the magazine, please take a look here where you can get a 10% discount and a free Rouleur Notebook.

  • Rouleur's Favourite Shirts: Mercatone Uno Jersey

    Now I wanna be your dog

    He was gonna be top dog, come hell or high water. And the shirt was made for him. Number One. Numero Uno. Marco Pantani’s shirt. Mercatone Uno.

    The Mercatone Uno Jersey by Santini The Mercatone Uno Jersey by Santini - available to buy online at Prendas!

    It was a beauty, a look totally of its time, an old millennium staggerin’ towards its dénouement. Marco was to be the man of the moment, and he needed to be dressed for the part. Bespoke, naturally, just like those collarless, lapel-less grey Beatle jackets that Dougie Millings ran up for Ringo ’n’ the boys in ’63 in his cutting room on Old Compton Street. No frills, no fuss.

    By ’98, the smiley face of rave culture had waned a little. The fluorescence of that vivid rainbow had dimmed. A muted statement of shade was appropriate. In came a pale primrose yellow and washed-out turquoise, top to toe. And when I say “top”, I mean it full-on. The entire team had their heads shaved in facsimile of their leader and wore matching bandanas with earring. It became a must-have accessory for the tifosi, three-deep on the slopes of the Dolomites.

    It was a canny ’n’ stylish move for a supermarket boss. Romano Cenni built his team around Marco. Il Pirata was a winner, not yet a sinner (and never that for me). He had to look cool. Tailor-made, just like the bondage trousers ’n’ shirt that Vivienne Westwood knocked up for Johnny Rotten in ’77 down the dodgy end of the King’s Road. It is unimaginable that Dame Shirley Porter would use Tesco like that. Mercatone Uno would blossom off the back of its cycling triumph, doubling turnover and tripling the number of outlets during the Pantani years.

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    Marco Pantani: 22nd July 1998.  Luchon/Plateu Beille. Marco Pantani: 22nd July 1998. Luchon/Plateu Beille.

     

    Oh, for sure, there were other sponsors’ names patch-worked onto the jersey, such as Bianchi. The colours were the clue, an abstract, modernist painting, like shards of winter light streamin’ through the stained glass windows of Chartres Cathedral. Marco searchin’ for redemption, finding only crucifixion (hey, check out those outstretched arms on the winning line at Deux-Alpes).

    The Giro was in the bag in ’98. Le Tour was rippin’ apart at the seams. Les flics were raisin’ hue ’n’ cry. Virenque was blabbin’ like a baby. And now your moment of zen...

    Down the road at Tarascon-sur-Ariège went the striking rouleurs, with Marco a cross-legged yogi, serene and wise beyond his years. That jersey was thrust out for all the world to see. And the unsaid message: “Don’t you fuck with me!”

    Three days later, he made his move on the Galibier and left ’em for dead. The raindrops poured down the camera lens of the motos so heavily that the TV screen appeared soaking, or maybe they were tears of joy on the inside of my eyelids. Mercatone Uno went Maillot Jaune. The Italian bank that co-sponsored the team gave away free shirts to new customers.

    Nowadays, a bare-chested Iggy flogs car insurance, but there ain’t no price tag on panache.

    Johnny Green

     

     

    RLR_issue10_cover Rouleur Issue 10

    This article has been reproduced with the very kind Permission of Rouleur.  Originally published in Issue 12, with the initial article in issue 10, we really enjoyed the varied essays from the various Rouleur contributors.

    We are delighted to say that Issue 53 (on sale 12th March 2015) will feature a Prendas Ciclismo double-page advertisement with everything that's new for Spring.

    If you wish to save money on an annual subscription to the magazine, please take a look here where you can get a 10% discount and a free Rouleur Notebook.

  • Rouleur’s Favourite Shirts: Mapei Jersey

    Here is a photograph of a MAPEI / Quickstep jersey signed by Oscar FreireMapei Masterclass

    What did Mapei mean? Literally, it stood for Materiali Ausiliari Per l’Edilizia e l’Industria, a Milan-based firm specialising in paints, tiles, floor coverings and sealants. Among the logo-busy jerseys of the pro peloton, some say that it was prettier than most, with its graphic of multi-coloured cubes floating on a blue sea of tile adhesive, like a flotsam of Liquorice Allsorts. It was certainly one of the loudest and most easily-recognised. But what this Italian team really stood for during its decade of sponsorship (1993-2002) was an unprecedented domination of the northern classics, fronted by that quintessential of Belgian riders, Johan Museeuw, and flanked by a roster of Italian strongmen – Franco Ballerini, Michele Bartoli, Andrea Tafi, Gianluca Bortolami and Stefano Zanini.

    They were not a Grand Tour squad – the fact that Tony Rominger won the Vuelta (1994) and the Giro (1995) in a Mapei jersey is almost forgotten. Easily overlooked, also, is the fact that four times in ten years Mapei’s riders brought home the World Champion’s jersey (Abraham Olano, 1995; Museeuw, 1996; Oscar Camenzind, 1998; Oscar Freire, 2001). For spring, not summer or autumn, was Mapei’s natural season, and its specialty were the gritty, attritional one-day races of 250km or more: the exposed roads of Ghent-Wevelgem, the Flèche Wallone and Het Volk, the cobbled muurs of Flanders, the hills of Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Amstel Gold. And, above all, the fearsome pavé of Paris-Roubaix.

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    Franco Ballerini winning the 1995 edition of Paris Roubaix For the second half of the 1990s, Mapei owned the franchise to Paris-Roubaix in a way no other team has ever managed. It is an astonishing record in a race where chance – a crash here, a puncture there – plays a far greater role than in any of the other classics. Look at their list of winners and see why: 1995, Ballerini; 1996, Museeuw; 1998, Ballerini; 1999, Tafi; 2000, Museeuw. Only a win by Française des Jeux’s Frédéric Guesdon in 1997 spoiled Mapei’s relentless procession (and Museeuw still no worse than 3rd then). The explanation for such consistency was simply that, in any given year, any one of three or four Mapei riders were individually capable of winning the race. On two occasions, the question of who actually crossed the line first in the velodrome at Roubaix was resolved not by strength but by diktat of the directeur sportif, as Mapei took over all three podium places in 1996 and repeated the feat in 1998.

    These were awesome displays, in which sheer power and endurance trumped the best efforts of team tactics. Mapei eventually left the sport after Stefano Garzelli tested positive in the 2002 Giro, and several other Mapei riders have subsequently been tainted by doping scandals, including Museeuw himself, Camenzind and Frank Vandenbroucke. It was an almost inevitable side-effect for a team so dominant during that low, dishonest decade. Yet Mapei’s final exit did not come before it had joined forces with another flooring manufacturer, Quick Step, to set up the next era of Belgian hegemony. But even with such extravagant talent as Paolo Bettini and Tom Boonen, Quick Step has not reproduced the exploits of Mapei’s masterclass: the rouleurs’ rouleurs.

    Matt Seaton – Journalist and author

     

     

    RLR_issue10_cover Rouleur Issue 10

    This article has been reproduced with the very kind Permission of Rouleur.  Originally published in Issue 10, with a subsequent follow up in issue 12, we really enjoyed the varied essays from the various Rouleur contributors.

    We are delighted to say that Issue 53 (on sale 12th March 2015) will feature a Prendas Ciclismo double-page advertisement with everything that's new for Spring.

    If you wish to save money on an annual subscription to the magazine, please take a look here where you can get a 10% discount and a free Rouleur Notebook.

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