The Mapei brand is one of the most important in the history of cycling. Giorgio Squinzi was passionate about two-wheelers and was the driving force behind a legendary squad that is now part of the history books of our sport. His daughter, Veronica Squinzi, is now the CEO of the group. For her, Mapei’s return to sponsorship of a cycling team is not possible. But this doesn’t mean they are completely out of the cycling game. The reflection of all this success in the 1990s is, of course, the iconic Mapei retro cycling jersey. A vintage cycling jersey that, combined with the legendary Mapei cap, tops the list of many retro fanatics.
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A bit of Mapei Cycling History
The origins of the Mapei team date back to 1993. The team then started in the world of cycling by co-sponsoring the Eldor Viner. Eldor Viner was team which consisted of well-known cyclists such as Marco Giovannetti, Andrea Noé and Fabrizio Bontempi. In 1994, the then Italian team merged with one of the leading Spanish teams, CLAS Cajastur, forming a very competitive team with Spanish riders (Abraham Olano, Fernando Escartin, Fede Echave and Iñaki Gastón) alongside foreign riders of great quality such as Tony Rominger, Mauro Giannetti, Gianluca Bortolami, Andrea Tafi and Franco Ballerini among others…
But it was not until 1995, with the split of GB-MG, that the fearsome cycling squad aka Mapei was formed. Mapei absorbed GB’s sponsorship, becoming the powerful Mapei-GB, which reigned in the Flemish classics for almost a decade with the likes of Johan Museeuw, Ludwing Willems, Carlo Bomans and Wilfried Peeters. The same year Mapei’s dominance in the spring classics was overwhelming…
The most famous victories in the Mapei retro cycling jersey
Mapei is a company with a turnover of 3 billion euros in the building products sector. But above all it was the team of Museeuw, Ballerini, Bartoli, Tafi, Bettini and… of course Oscar Freire. The most famous victory of this Italian cycling team with a clear Belgian touch is without doubt the 1996 Paris-Roubaix victory. The one with the triple of Museeuw, Bortolami and Tafi. 3 iconic Mapei cycling jerseys in a row. Museeuw still wearing the typical Mapei cap and Ballerini and Taffi already wearing bike helmets. It made for a great photo. The team led by Patrick Lefevere dominated the cycling classics for almost a decade, and managed to take all three podium places of the French race in three almost consecutive editions: 1996, 1998 and 1999. But without doubt it was the first of the three triumphs (in 1996) which will always remembered.
Two years later it would be Franco Ballerini (5th in 1996) who would win Roubaix again, after his first victory in 1995. Once again, Mapei GB managed to finish with three riders in the first three places of the race. But the three riders did not manage to finish the race simultaneously, as Ballerini reached the finish line alone with 4:16 over Andrea Tafi and 4:19 over Wilfried Peeters. A triumph that was repeated a year later, in 1999, and this time it was the Italian Champion, Andrea Tafi (3rd in 1996 and 2nd in 1998) who finally obtained his first and only victory in the ‘Hell of the North’. All of them wearing the famous retro cycling jerseys which are so loved still nowadays.
And let’s not forget that the same year, Johan Museeuw also won the World Championships in Lugano. Just like Cadel Evans won it in Mendrisio in 2009.
The iconic cubes on the Mapei vintage retro cycling jersey
“The cubes on the retro Mapei cycling kit were an idea of Giorgio Squinzi’s, former owner of Mapei, wife. She always had brilliant marketing ideas and was always one step ahead. The coloured shorts with cubes caused a true thrill in the cycling world. Until then cycling bibs had always been black, just black. Mapei became known and famous as “the cube team” and thanks to the various cycling successes they became popular all over the world, but especially in Belgium.
The current Quickstep- Alpha Vinyl team, becoming Soudal – Quick Step in 2023 is in principle the successor of Mapei. Mapei was nicknamed Squadra Azurra or Blue Armada while Quick Step these days is known as The Wolfpack.
Original Mapei Accessories
Surfing on the Internet I bumped into some colorful and original Mapei accessories or at least accessories which were inspired by the Mapei color pattern.
One of the first items that caught my eye was this unique Mapei cycling jersey poster print from three back pockets.
A second item I want to share with you are the Mapei Cycling Jersey mugs from Summit Finish. A retro cycling object which puts a morning smile on your face. By the way, the webshop of Summit Finish also contains other related Mapei items like jerseys and sweaters.
The final item I want to put in the picture is the mini figurine of Cycling Souvenirs. It is a hand painted Mapei mini cyclist figurine, wearing the classic Mapei cycling jersey. Beautifully finished and sent out in individual mini boxes.
Do you want to know more about the most popular retro cycling jerseys in history? Check my blog articles and let me know your feedback!:
- Top 10 cult retro cycling jerseys
- The best retro cycling jerseys
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