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May 6, 2011

It’s the 23rd May 1993 and on the start line in Porto Azzuro, lining up for stage 1a of the Giro d’Italia is a new name in professional cycling. Mapei.

From strange beginnings, this team would go on to become the dominant ‘superteam’ for over a decade, winning some of the sports biggest monuments with some of cycling’s legendary riders.

Mapei would become synonymous with Colnago, but right at the very beginning of their career the team rode Viner’s. Earlier in 1993, Viner became the bike supplier and co-sponsor to the Eldor Professional squad, a new team headed up by manager Piero Pieroni. It was the first time the Italian electronics and telecommunications manufacturer had entered into the world of professional cycling, and it appears it was a tough baptism. With just two wins in the first 5 months of the season through Fabrizio Bontempi at the Swiss Giro dei Sei Comuni and the team’s undoubted star, Stefano Della Santa at the Giro di Campania, the team struggled not only on the road but also in the backroom. Rumours of imminent financial collapse of the team in May opened the door for Mapei managing Director Giorgio Squinzi to realise a business plan he’d been working on for a while. A passionate cycling fan, Squinzi had wanted to start a team of his own – the Eldor squad’s financial problems meant he could pick up a ready made team that boasted the Italian Road Champion, Marco Giovanetti and had all the infrastructure in place. So it was that the Eldor-Viner squad became Mapei-Viner on the eve of the Giro d’Italia.

The 1993 Giro wasn’t a bad one for the new team, Della Santa getting a 2nd place on the 6th stage and eventually finishing 21st overall. Despite this promising start, the rest of the season didn’t really go to plan for Squinzi, his Mapei squad only registering one victory – the Trofeo Melinda, where again Della Santa showed his class by beating renowned riders Mauro Gianetti and Wladimir Belli.

The following year Mapei would join forces with the Spanish CLAS squad, and the rest, as they say, is history. Squinzi’s squad would wreak havoc in the Northern classics in the years to come, astride their famous Colnago’s. But it’s nice to know that this superteam started out on Viner’s, getting their first victory of many in their famous gaudy jersies astride one of Pistoia’s finest.


Fabrizio Bontempi
Mauro Consonni
Stefano Della Santa
Alessio Di Basco
Luca Gelfi
Federico Ghiotto
Marco Giovanetti
Juan-Carlos Gonzalez Salvador
Santos Hernandez
Dario Nicoletti
Andréa Noe
Daniel Steiger
Andreï Teteriuk
Gianluca Tonetti

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