Bianchi are the Grande Signore of the professional cycling world. They have been around across three centuries, their bicycles ridden to every prestigious race in the sport’s history, and have an international presence, not least in their home country. As their marketing and communications manager Claudio Masnata suggested to me, it’s a bit like every Italian has a Bianchi in their garage at home.
But how to keep an iconic, veteran brand fresh? One new way is offering experiences for cyclists. They have partnered with Grand Tours Project on two rides for the autumn of 2019, their “Powered by Bianchi Tours”. The first is a week-long one from Alpe d’Huez to Stelvio, the other a five-dayer in Tuscany based around the gravel roads of L’Eroica.
It’s a mix of modern experience, with their recognised Swiss collaborators taking care of routes and management, and a nod to their own rich heritage in the sport, taking clients over the storied climbs of the Stelvio, Galibier, Iseran and Izoard to celebrate the career of Fausto Coppi.
Their events also sometimes offer the thrill of riding with modern pros and gleaning their advice. For instance, last August, Team Jumbo-Visma leader Primoz Roglic joined a Bianchi Pro day at the five-star Park Gstaad, fresh off his Tour de France stage win and fourth place.
“The ride there around the mountains was just super nice. It was sunny and we were all enjoying views in that breathtaking landscape – which helped while going uphill. I’m really looking forward to find an opportunity to go there again,” Roglic (pictured below on the ride) told me over email.
So if he had to choose this year, would it be Bianchi’s Alpe to Stelvio ride or Eroica? “Both of them are really nice rides, epic rides. But if I had to pick, Alpe d’Huez to Stelvio. I like big mountains and with these two historical climbs, you feel that you want to be a part of it,” he says.
Overall, this kind of experience is a potential boom area for companies looking to give cyclists something even more personal. “There are thousands of brands with great products. But people want community, they want to share and live the experience,” Masnata says. “And this is what we want to do: we want the people to use and experience our product, to have an emotional attachment to it.”
“We want to focus on the customer and the customer experience more and more,” Masnata says. “For people passionate about cycling and sport. It’s something exclusive, but accessible. We are a premium brand and we want people to be able to participate.”
“And because of our Italian heritage, the design, the passion we have, the lifestyle we have. Combined with our innovation and technology, we can offer the best advantage possible.”
Founded in 1885, Bianchi may be one of the oldest in the pack, but they are sprightly and cutting edge too, adapting with their competitors. They are experts with carbon fibre, use NASA aerospace technology and are working on e-bike tours, seeing this new area’s potential.
Collaborating closely with Dutch WorldTour squad Jumbo-Visma also means they offer a diverse range for every kind of rider, from the Classics-friendly Infinito CV for Wout van Aert to Primoz Roglic’s all-round Oltre XR4. The squad is helping them to develop their products, as well as giving them visibility around the world.
Alongside Pinarello at Sky and Colnago, ridden by UAE-Team Emirates, Bianchi are also one of three Italian brands in the WorldTour too. What does Masnata make of the challenges facing their market and the last 15 years?
“Of course we know it’s a challenge to support and work with the team,” he says. “We really believe it will continue because Bianchi is not only an Italian company, founded and made in Milano. We sell bikes in more than 60 countries and we have a physical presence in all continents with our unique brand.”
You can find out more about Powered by Bianchi Tours here. This was promoted content by Bianchi.