Thursday, December 1, 2011
Another view of the living legend from the inner ring:
I remember when he was building up for San Remo, I was riding in the area near where Tirreno-Adriatico was starting and tagged along with his Saeco team for a tempo ride, catching the last part of their four hour ride. The riders looped back to their hotel. I planned to ride more but needed to centre my back brake, so I asked and a mechanic helpfully went in search of a spanner.
Above me, several of the riders emerged on their hotel balconies, sunning themselves in only bib shorts and calling down to almost any woman passing on the street below. As the mechanic came back out of the hotel with the spanner he was accompanied by Cipollini and a soigneur. Whilst I tweaked my brakes, the soigneur slotted two water bottles on Cipo’s bike and he was off to do hill repeats on a nearby climb.
This is only an anecdote but it says a lot, whilst his team mates were whistling at passing women, Cipollini was doing extra intervals. Yes he was a showman but he played this side up to the full whilst hiding his abilities and work rate.
Cipollini was a superb sprinter but he realised cycling relied on imagery and mythology and so he himself created the myth of Cipollini which became greater than the man himself.