25 years ago everybody called the Mapei Team the “Battleship”
1995 was the best year in the glorious history of Mapei cycling.
The team with the cube-patterned jersey won a total of 654 races between 18th May 1993 and the end of the 2002 season; 1995 was the most successful year of all.
The team, then called Mapei-GB, won the Tour of Italy and Tour of Switzerland thanks to Tony Rominger, the UCI Road World Championships in Duitama (Colombia) with the Spanish rider Abraham Olano, the Belgian Johan Museeuw won the Laigueglia Trophy, and Frank Vandenbrouke (Belgium) won the Paris-Brussels race.
As regards the 1995 World Cup races, Franco Ballerini dominated the Paris-Roubaix and Museeuw conquered the Tour of Flanders, also winning the Zürich Grand Prix.
Museeuw’s wins saw him crowned the overall winner of the World Cup. And Mapei-GB also finished top of the team standings in the World Cup and International Cycling Union world rankings. “Team rankings are very important to us - so Adriana Spazzoli, then Director of Mapei Group’s Operational Marketing and Communication, often noted - because they epitomise the Mapei Group’s focus on team spirit”.
1995. Tony Rominger with his pink jersey at the finish line of the Loreto stage during the Italy Tour.
1995. The winner of the World Cup, Johan Museeuw, and the winner of the UCI Road World Championships, Abraham Olano, with Ernesto Colnago and Giorgio Squinzi.
Most importantly, Mapei-GB revolutionised cycling in 1995 in particular: this change in approach was not just a matter of winning races.
“There is no real technical difference between the Mapei team back then and today’s big teams - so Andrea Tafi told us, one of Mapei’s top riders from 1994 to 2002. “Nevertheless, I’d like to point out that our team budget in 1995 was the equivalent of half of the budget of today’s top teams. If that Mapei cycling team was racing today, with the organisation and budget of current squads, it would achieve even better results than the top teams.”. But it was not just a question of money. “Mr. Giorgio Squinzi – so Tafi went on to say - made us feel like one big family. There were other really strong teams but, driven along by Mr Squinzi, we managed to give that something extra”.
Rominger won the overall classification of the Tour of Italy ahead of Berzin and Ugrumov, both from the Gewiss team. As well as being the overall winner (pink jersey) on time, Rominger also won the points (mauve) jersey and (blue) intermediate sprints jersey, as well as four stages.
Mapei’s corporate slogan back then was “Winning together”, something that was highlighted to perfection by the riders in the cube-pattern jerseys, for example, in the final stage of the Tour of Italy that finished in Gressonay. “Rominger was in the pink jersey and the Gewiss team decided to attack us at a feeding station. That was not fair play: there is an unwritten rule that you never attack at a feeding station, but the Gewiss team did. It was a tough stage and Rominger was struggling. The whole Mapei team got behind him and he managed to hold onto the lead”. That evening, the Swiss rider told his teammates: “I do not know whether I will be able to keep up with the climbers on the double climb up to Cuvignone Pass”. All the Mapei lads gathered around Rominger and told him: “We will help you, you can do it. we will make sure you are in the pink jersey when we get to Milan”. And they did.
Mr. Squinzi made us feel like one big family. There were other top teams but, urged on by Mr. Squinzi, we managed to give something extra.
“Team rankings are very important to us - so Adriana Spazzoli, then Director of Mapei Group’s Operational Marketing and Communication, often noted - because they epitomise the Mapei Group’s focus on team spirit”.