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Gallery: Mario Cipollini's iconic Team Saeco Cannondale given a 2017 makeover

Stu Bowers
19 Jun 2017

Cannondale’s Clive Gosling explains why a 2017 SuperSix Evo has been built in homage to Cipo's Team Saeco bike from the 1990s

Clive Gosling was just starting out at Cannondale when the company began sponsoring Mario Cipollini’s Saeco team in the 1990s.

‘It was a really groundbreaking time for Cannondale,’ says Gosling, now marketing manager at Cycling Sports Group, Cannondale’s UK distributor. ‘We made some big waves in the peloton.

‘Cipo would win the first couple of stages of the Tour, be in yellow for a while, then he would bugger off and go to the beach.

‘We were the first team to have a yellow bike ready if he took the race lead, along with matching components and kit.

‘We even thought to put our Cannondale logos on the palms of his gloves for when he came across the
line with his hands in the air.

‘We dressed Cipollini up as Julius Caesar once, and we had his bike on the start line lifted off the floor by helium balloons to demonstrate how light it was,’ Gosling recalls.

‘There were all these rumours that we were continually being fined by the UCI, but they didn’t really fine us, it was great theatre and it was exactly what they wanted.

‘It was a crazy but fantastic time.’

This golden era in Cannondale’s history was the inspiration for giving a modern 2017 Cannondale SuperSix Evo a beautifully rendered makeover in the Saeco livery.

Show stopper

‘We showed it at the London Bike Show and it was one of the most popular bikes on the stand,’ says Gosling.

‘What I liked about it was people would come over and stare at it for a while and they couldn’t immediately decide if it was a new bike or an old bike.

‘There’s a lot of love for those bikes of that era. They’re not yet vintage, because they’re not yet that old.

‘A lot of people buy the current SuperSix Evo because it’s got a classic look. If you put it up against the silhouette of a CAAD3 or CAAD4 from the Cipo era, they actually don’t look too dissimilar.

‘So it’s cool that we have the opportunity to create a modern top-tier, raceable road bike that can still have the look and feel of that iconic team bike.’

Recreating the frame aesthetic and getting that vivid red spot-on was tasked to custom paint specialist Ali McLean of Fat Creations, Chichester, who also custom-painted a few of the more contemporary features on the bike, such as the Fabric ALM saddle and FSA carbon one-piece cockpit. 

‘The Saeco team famously used Spinergy wheels,’ says Gosling. ‘Back in the glory days, though, it would have been the Rev-X carbon four-spoke wheels, which were awful, but they looked cool as hell. 

‘I didn’t realise Spinergy still made bike wheels. It was only through doing this project that I looked them up online and found their website.

‘I got in touch and they were really happy to be involved and created these custom modern replicas using their unique PBO spoke technology, with yellow graphics on a 50mm carbon clincher.

‘I wanted tan wall tyres and the Vittoria Corsa Graphene is spot-on to complement the look.’

Saeco used both Shimano and Campagnolo, depending on who was sponsor at the time, but Gosling had clear reasons for keeping this build in the Italian camp.

‘The team was largely Italian, based around Cipo and Giro winner Ivan Gotti, plus there’s something very beautiful about Super Record that complements the classic look of the bike very well,’ he says.

Cannondale’s own SiSL2 chainset might appear to be an anachronism, but not so.

Ahead of its time

‘The original Magic Motorcycles Coda Cannondale crank that we were running through the mid to late-90s was way ahead of its time, using external bottom bracket and a large oversized aluminium axle,’ says Gosling. 

‘I have a funny story about that. I was at an event where Cipo came over holding a pair of Record cranks.

‘No matter how much we insisted our crank was much stiffer than Record, he wasn’t having any of it, so the mechanic swapped the cranks. It was in the days before torque wrenches and I watched as the mechanic massively over-tightened the bolts.

‘I was like, “Whoa, whoa, you’re going to break the crank.” He looked at me angrily and said, “Do you want to be the mechanic when Cipo’s cranks fall off in the sprint?” Like I said, it was a crazy time.’

Photography: Fred MacGregor

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