Facebook Pixel Image

ROULEUR ISSUE 19.2 - NOW AVAILABLE

  • Mario Cipollini: “Real sprinters are like heavyweight boxers”

    Posted on

    A typically shy and retiring Mario Cipollini on stunts and scandals, wins and women, and how he thinks he could still beat every current Italian sprinter

    Photographs: Paolo Ciaberta / Offside / L'Equipe
    Mario Cipollini

    Mario Cipollini lives in Lucca, at the top of a little hill. From below, it’s a climb, but judged from above, it’s a descent. The man who entered the history books by taking flight on the flat simply knows it as home sweet home, his start and his finish, his observatory overlooking the world.

     

    Marco Pastonesi: What does the sprint mean to you?
    Mario Cipollini: It’s a whole life concentrated, squeezed and shaken in 20 seconds. To be as strong in those vital, existential seconds, you have to work body and mind, day and night. The sprint is tension and intuition, will and desire, self-denial and sacrifice, focus and determination, judgement and vision. For me it was a way to express myself, to show my character, to make my personality stand out.

     

    The longest sprint?
    In 1988, my last year as an amateur. The Giro di Puglia, a stage race. Olaf Ludwig, the East German, was there. They were talking about him like he was divine wrath, a holy monster, a god of war from the Peace Race. I beat him in the first stage, and the second. The third they boxed me in and he won. For the fourth, we gave it all we had from 400 metres until a little less than 70 from the line when he sat up.

     

    And the shortest?
    Maybe the 2002 World Championships in Zolder. At 400 metres to go, there was an incline but it levelled out around 150 and with that Blue Train [the Italian national team] it was the easiest part of the whole race.

    The most beautiful?
    There were lots. Some at less prestigious races. But there’s one that still moves me, at the 1995 Giro d’Italia, the first stage from Perugia to Terni. The maglia rosa was up for grabs and my dad and family were in the crowd.

     

    Have you ever bet on one of your sprints?
    Never for or against, either on myself or the others. The sprint was sacred. Actually, I’ve never bet on anything. In the 15 years I lived in Monte Carlo, I never spent a Lira at the casino.

     

    What did it mean to win?
    Enjoyment, satisfaction, liberation. In my own way, I always felt the burden of the race and only victory could lift that weight.

     

    And yet, you were known for levity. What about that time on the motorway, caught doing 70km/h?
    It was 90, probably 95, maybe even 100. It was 2003, I was training on the Monte Serra [a mountain just south of Lucca] and to avoid the traffic, I tucked in behind the Smart car of “Carube” [Roberto Lencioni], my mechanic, and got onto the highway that runs from Livorno to Pisa.

    I was listening to some music on my Walkman and paying attention to avoid the pockmarks on the road when I saw that Carube was signalling to me. I turned to see a police car with the cop banging his temple with his forefinger as if to say I was crazy and then he motioned to the hard shoulder to tell me to pull over.

     

    They charged me for being on the highway, for speeding and for dangerous driving. Then they got angry because I didn’t have a registration plate and they couldn’t find the bike’s serial number, so they gave me a verbal warning and a fine that never arrived, and then they left. I got back on the bike, turned on the Walkman’s radio and my incident was already on the news.

     

    As for Francisco Cerezo?
    The 2000 Vuelta. I didn’t even want to go because my father was in a coma and my mother was distressed. On stage four, the peloton split and I was in the front group, but there was a fan in the road and when I pulled in I brushed another rider, who shouted at me: “Hijo de puta!”

     

    I immediately tried to settle the score, but he got away. I didn’t know who he was, he was a nobody, but I spotted him and the next day I got him with a right hook to the face. [Cerezo needed three stitches, Cipollini was disqualified.]

     

    What about your muscle skin suit?
    I came up with the idea while I was working out in the gym. There was an anatomical poster with all the muscles and nerves. So I did it. They called it scandalous but it was just a silly idea like so many others. I didn’t even get a fine, maybe because it was the first time, the officials weren’t expecting it and didn’t know how to react.

     

    And then?
    At the 1997 Tour, I had a different coloured pair of shorts every day, and every day I got a fine. At the ’98 Tour, in Ireland, I had “Peace” written on the green jersey. The next year I dressed as an ancient Roman to really enjoy my triumph.

    Mario Cipollini

    At the départ I showed up with my own Cleopatra, who was a stripper. I was the first to say “If I wasn’t a rider, I’d be a porn star,” the first to make a mobile phone call during the race, the first to have a picture of Pamela Anderson on his stem, the first to ride in the Papal colours in Rome [at the Giro d’Italia], as a tiger in Holland, baroque in Genoa. All my ideas, silly but fun.

     

    The last?
    The most recent, but not the last. Wearing socks, shoes and a helmet, but otherwise naked, on the rollers, in response to those who said I was training without protecting my head. I posted it on Facebook and it got a million hits in a day and phone calls from two female TV presenters on Rai and Mediaset [Italy’s two major networks].

     

    Ah, the women.
    At the ’93 Tour in San Sebastián, I was giving a journalist from the Diario Vasco my full attention at the start village, she was beautiful and in a tight-fitting dress. I was totally absorbed in words and thoughts when I heard the radio in a team car saying that they’d already launched the first attack. I jumped on my bike and shot off to catch the group at 60km/h.

     

    And what about that time you broke away, not in the race but from the race, for a girl?
    I was forced to participate, I think, in the Coppa Agostoni. On the final circuit, Alessio Di Basco and I broke off at the first climb. We went into a house, where we’d been invited to have lunch in the garden and watched the bunch pass by every lap.

     

    The problem was that Di Basco wanted his directeur sportif to think that rather than abandoning, he’d gone on to do some distance training. So we embellished the tale and a journalist wrote a love story. But that time, it wasn’t true.

    Mario Cipollini

    Honestly, in your life, more victories or women?
    If I only had 198 women, the same numbers as my victories, I’d have to be considered a loser.

     

    Quiz: Who said it, Mario Cipollini or Donald Trump?

     

    Is there anything that you wouldn’t do if you could go back in time?Everything I did went well for me, so I regret nothing.

     

    Is there something that you wish you had done?
    I wish I’d finished at least one Tour de France. I went back to the Tour, as a spectator, in 2014 when Vincenzo Nibali won. And I lived the atmosphere not as an athlete or a journalist, but with all those fans who see the riders who finish the Tour as authentic heroes. And I was sorry. I should have got to Paris. For them. For me. For cycling culture.

     

    Do you have a weakness?
    Who knows what I look like most of the time, but deep down I’m a good guy. Sweetness melts me, passion conquers me, love dominates me.

     

    Will you go to heaven or hell?
    I hope I’ll go wherever the women are, that is to say, where the cock crows. And you know why the cock crows? Because Mother Nature, or the good lord, made chickens without underwear.

    Why didn’t you become a directeur sportif?
    Because I was the person least suited to explain to a rider all of the sacrifices he has to make to respect himself, the fans and the sport. He has to tell them that once they’ve fixed their minds on a goal, they can’t falter with one kilometre in training, a spoonful of food or a minute of rest.

     

    And why not a team manager?
    Because I finished my career as a rider in a period in which it was no longer important to know the rules and strategies, you just had to be friends with those in charge. I’ve never been a politician, I’ve never been enchanted by anyone; basically, I’m a tricky one to manage.

     

     

    You don’t want to return to racing?
    I’d only need a month and a half of training to beat all of the Italian sprinters. Some of them I beat even now. Just don’t ask me to give any names; they have contracts and I’d get them in trouble.

     

    And the others?
    The road is like a ring. Real sprinters are like heavyweight boxers. People like Marcel Kittel, André Greipel, like me. Mark Cavendish is strong, or at least was strong, because now – with all respect – he is in decline, but he was never a heavyweight. He was lucky to come into a power vacuum when the world heavyweight title was vacant, and to have a train that made it like a stroll for him.

     

    Read: Caleb Ewan on the art of sprinting

     

    How is Italian cycling doing?
    Once upon a time, the Belgians, French and Spanish came to us to learn. They raced for Italian teams and the calendar of Italian races was equal to the WorldTour. No other country had riders like Fausto Coppi and Gino Bartali. Now we are hostages and victims of cycling politics that exclude us, marginalise us, give us up as sacrifices.

    Mario Cipollini

    There are still some good Italians.
    It’s not only the scientists who have fled Italy, but also the riders, from Nibali and Aru to Daniel Oss and Manuel Quinziato, Elia Viviani and Alessandro De Marchi… and some coaches. Italian excellence still exists in some companies making bikes and clothing.

     

    And the bicycle has never been more in vogue.
    It’s a lot cooler in London. The city planners think about cycling, the streets are full of urban cyclists, I saw some girls riding with their high heels in their baskets, they’d get off their bike, change their shoes and go to the office or into the nightclub. Here in Italy, women only cycle to keep fit, as an alternative to the gym or spinning classes, only thinking of firm legs and a nice ass.

     

    What’s still to come from Mario Cipollini?
    I want to live peacefully. Walking in the woods. Or on the road, on my bike. As a free man.

     

    This is an edited extract from Rouleur 62. Translation by Colin O’Brien.

    Banner Rouleur kit

     



     

    62 thoughts on “Mario Cipollini: “Real sprinters are like heavyweight boxers””

    1. Cool blog! Is your theme custom made or did you download it from somewhere? A theme like yours with a few simple tweeks would really make my blog jump out. Please let me know where you got your design. Thanks a lot

    2. Hello! This is my first visit to your blog! We are a group of volunteers and starting a new initiative in a community in the same
      niche. Your blog provided us useful information to work on. You have done a wonderful job!

    3. Nice blog here! Additionally your site lots up fast! What host are you using?
      Can I get your affiliate hyperlink on your host? I
      desire my website loaded up as fast as yours lol

    4. I’m not sure exactly why but this website is loading extremely slow for me. Is anyone else having this issue or is it a problem on my end? I’ll check back later and see if the problem still exists.

    5. hey there and thanks for your information – I’ve definitely picked up something new from right here. I did on the other hand experience several technical issues using this site, as I experienced to reload the website many occasions previous to I may just get it to load properly. I were wondering in case your web host is OK? No longer that I’m complaining, however slow loading instances occasions will often affect your placement in google and can harm your quality rating if advertising and ***********|advertising|advertising|advertising and *********** with Adwords. Well I’m including this RSS to my e-mail and could look out for much more of your respective intriguing content. Make sure you update this again soon..

    6. This site is mostly a stroll-via for the entire info you wanted about this and didn’t know who to ask. Glimpse right here, and you’ll positively uncover it.

    7. That is the fitting blog for anybody who desires to seek out out about this topic. You notice so much its almost arduous to argue with you (not that I really would want…HaHa). You definitely put a new spin on a topic thats been written about for years. Great stuff, simply great!

    8. I’m impressed, I have to admit. Genuinely rarely should i encounter a weblog that’s both educative and entertaining, and let me tell you, you may have hit the nail about the head. Your idea is outstanding; the problem is an element that insufficient persons are speaking intelligently about. I am delighted we came across this during my look for something with this.

    9. Y decir que el C monta un motor Jaguar es bastante rebuscado e incierto, probablemente para darle un empaque técnico al C que obviamente no tiene, pero aqui no cuela, quizas en una barra de bar rodeado de desconocedores del tema lo mismo hasta triunfa. Y la primera prueba de comodidad de ambos coches sería muy fácil: medida (en centímetros) del hundimiento de la parte trasera de los coches al arrancar en parado. Pd. Me he estado muriendo de risa en el trabajo al ver que en Wikipedia sale usted como diseñador del c .

    10. I’m very pleased to uncover this page. I need to to thank you for
      your time just for this wonderful read!! I definitely
      appreciated every bit of it and I have you bookmarked to see new information in your web site.

    11. Greetings from Florida! I’m bored to death at work so I decided to browse your site on my iphone during lunch break. I love the info you provide here and can’t wait to take a look when I get home. I’m shocked at how quick your blog loaded on my mobile .. I’m not even using WIFI, just 3G .. Anyhow, good site!

    12. Hey, I think your site might be having browser compatibility issues. When I look at your blog site in Firefox, it looks fine but when opening in Internet Explorer, it has some overlapping. I just wanted to give you a quick heads up! Other then that, amazing blog!

    13. I was suggested this web site by my cousin. I’m not sure whether this post is written by him as no one else know such detailed about my problem. You’re incredible! Thanks!

    14. I would like to express some appreciation to this writer just for rescuing me from this crisis. Right after surfing around throughout the the web and finding solutions which are not helpful, I figured my entire life was well over. Existing without the presence of strategies to the issues you’ve resolved as a result of your good guide is a critical case, and the ones which could have badly affected my career if I hadn’t discovered your blog post. Your good know-how and kindness in maneuvering almost everything was very useful. I’m not sure what I would have done if I had not discovered such a step like this. I am able to at this point look forward to my future. Thanks a lot very much for the professional and sensible help. I won’t hesitate to recommend your blog to any individual who will need care about this situation.

    15. hey there and thank you for your info – I have certainly picked up something new from right here. I did however expertise several technical issues using this web site, since I experienced to reload the website many times previous to I could get it to load properly. I had been wondering if your web host is OK? Not that I’m complaining, but slow loading instances times will often affect your placement in google and could damage your high quality score if advertising and marketing with Adwords. Anyway I’m adding this RSS to my email and can look out for a lot more of your respective interesting content. Make sure you update this again soon..

    16. Howdy would you mind stating which blog platform you’re using? I’m going to start my own blog in the near future but I’m having a hard time choosing between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal. The reason I ask is because your layout seems different then most blogs and I’m looking for something completely unique. P.S My apologies for being off-topic but I had to ask!

    17. Magnificent items from you, man. I’ve take into accout your stuff prior to and you’re just extremely magnificent.
      I actually like what you have obtained here, certainly like what you are stating and the best
      way by which you say it. You’re making it entertaining and you continue to care for to keep
      it sensible. I cant wait to learn much more
      from you. That is actually a tremendous website.

    18. I have been browsing online greater than three hours lately, but I never discovered any interesting article like yours. It’s pretty value sufficient for me. In my view, if all website owners and bloggers made just right content as you probably did, the internet will probably be much more helpful than ever before.

    19. Admiring the hard work you put into your site and detailed information you offer. It’s good to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same unwanted rehashed information. Great read! I’ve saved your site and I’m adding your RSS feeds to my Google account.

    20. Now this is weird, all jokes aside – this is the second time today that I found this blog when searching for two totally different things. Has anyone else ever done that?

    21. Hey I know this is off topic but I was wondering if you knew of any widgets I could add to my
      blog that automatically tweet my newest twitter updates.
      I’ve been looking for a plug-in like this for quite some time and was hoping maybe you would have
      some experience with something like this. Please let
      me know if you run into anything. I truly enjoy reading your blog and I look forward to your new updates.

    22. En el aspecto estético, los electrodomésticos panelables, muy generalizados en la década de 1980, han dado paso a diseños curvos y estilizados, y a múltiples variedades de color. Aunque te parezca buena idea no bebas el agua demasiado fría, el agua muy fría baja mucho la temperatura interna lo que en un principio es una sensación agradable al cabo de un rato se convertirá en una desventaja pues al bajar nuestra temperatura tendremos mayor sensación de calor lo que nos obligará a sudar mucho más creando un ciclo infinito. Por las noches deje las ventanas y puertas interiores abiertas, esto le ayudara a evacuar el aire caliente de la casa permitiéndole descansar un poco mejor.

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published.