Photo Special: Arrivederci Team Cannondale
Photo Special: It’s not ‘Good-Bye Cannondale’ but more of a ‘See you next year in the US’ for the famous frame maker. After nearly 20 years of sponsoring and supplying bikes to Italian based Pro teams, Cannondale will become a US WorldTour team with Garmin in 2015. We take a look at ‘Cannondale: The Italian Years’.
Cannondale started manufacturing backpacks and camping bags before moving into bike frames. Lightweight racing and touring bikes came first and then like the other US based bike manufacturers, Specialized and Trek, they moved into the Mountain Bike market. It wasn’t long before those fat tubed aluminum Cannondales were seen all over the World.
In 1983 the first Cannondale aluminum frames were manufactured, at this time steel was the material of choice. There were some titanium and alloy frames around and carbon was just a dream.
The Saeco Years
In 1996 the Italian Saeco team were setting the World on fire with a guy called Mario Cipollini winning stages all over the place along with the Italian national pro road championships. That year they rode Moser bikes, but a change was on the way.
Sponsoring an Italian Pro team spread the Cannondale word, not just in Europe, but all over the World. Being connected to Saeco and Cipollini didn’t do Cannondale’s image and commercial success any harm.
Saeco is a coffee machine manufacturer and has that Italian style and flair that suited ‘Super Mario’ and Cannondale, they were a perfect match. In 1997 the Saeco/Cannondale/Cipollini combination hit the big time in Pro cycling.
The 1997 Giro d’Italia was great for the team; Ivan Gotti took the overall with a stage win and Cipollini won four stages. The Tour de France wasn’t bad either with Cipollini taking the first two stages to continue his good form from Romandie (3 stages) and a stage in Valencia. Not to forget Roberto Petito’s overall in Tirreno-Adriatico, Francesco Casagrande overall in the Giro di Romagna et Coppa Placci and a Valencia stage for Gianmatteo Fagnini made it a great opening season for Cannondale.
The following year, 1998, was another landslide for Mario Cipollini on his Cannondale: 2 Tour stage wins, 4 in the Giro, 4 more in the Volta a Catalunya and 1 in the GP Costa degli Estruschi. Other riders performed strongly too with Paolo Salvodelli winning the GC at the Giro del Trentino and a stage, and Gianmatteo Fagnini adding to the four stage wins of Mario’s for six Saeco Italian Grand Tour stages.
In ’99 Cannondale became a named sponsor and again it was a wonderful year, the high point being Mario Cipollini winning four Tour de France stages in a row. After one of his stage wins he came right up the TV camera to shout: “Cannondale makes the best bikes!” This surely shot the bikes high into most cyclists mind.
The sight of Cipo dressed as Julius Caesar after his fourth stage wins is difficult to forget, although ‘The Lion King’ was not invited back to the Tour for three years.
Two national champions; Armin Meier in Switzerland and Salvatore Commesso in Italy. Cipollini also won the Peperbus Profspektakel Zwolle, Trofeo Manacor, Trofeo Luis Puig, stages of the Tour de Romandie and Tirreno-Adriatico, two in Catalunya and four in the Giro d’Italia. Paolo Salvoldelli won the Trofeo Laigueglia overall with a stage and another Giro stage. Laurent Dufaux won La Poly Normande and Salvatore Commesso added stage 13 of the Tour de France to the tally.
After the storming previous years on Cannondale bikes, 2000 was a little disappointing, mainly due to Cipollini not having a great year and being thrown out of the Vuelta a España for fighting with Francisco Cerezo at the start of stage 4. One Giro stage, 2 Romandie stages and the Points jersey, a stage of the Tour Méditerranéen and Valencia and the GP Costa degli Estruschi were the highlights.
The others in the team had a few wins; Paolo Salvoldelli won the Tour de Romandie (with 1 stage) and the Giro del Trentino and Salvatore Commesso took another Tour de France stage win.
2001 brought in a load of wins, but the team was changing, less wins for the big sprinter as the team seemed to be turning into a GC squad with Cadel Evans joining and winning the Tour of Austria and the Brixia Tour. Cipollini was still the top prizewinner with 4 Giro and 1 Tour stages, 2 in Romandie and the Criterium Bavikhoeve.
Paolo Salvodelli won the prologue and a stage of the Tour of Romandie, Salvatore Commesso won the Points jersey in the Volta a Portugal, Biagio Conte won 2 stages of the Rothaus Regio-Tour International and 1 stage of Tirreno-Adriatico, Jörge Ludewig took a stage of the Bayern-Rundfahrt, Costa degli Etruschi went to Fabio Sacchi, Christian Wegmann won Rund um die Hainleite, Mirko Celestino won the Tre Valli Varesine and Milano-Torino. Two stages of the Tour Down Under also came to the men in red; one each to Alessio Galletti and Fabio Sacchi.
A good year with some different wins, but it was good-bye to ‘Super Mario’ as he was off to Acqua & Sapone.
2002 was a different season, with the disappearance of Cipollini and Cadel Evans moving on, the wins still came in, but they were all from new names. Damiano Cunego, Danilo Di Luca, Gilberto Simoni and Igor Astarloa became the riders putting their names in the results.
Cunego: Giro d’Oro and Giro del Medio Brenta. Di Luca: Giro del Veneto, Trophy City Castelfidardo, Trophy Laigueglia, stage Vuelta a España, 2 stages Tirreno-Adriatico and one stage in Valencia. Simoni: 1 stage of the Giro d’Italia. Astarloa: Overall in the Brixia Tour with a stage.
The others in the team didn’t hang about either as Salvatore Commesso won the Italian National championships again, plus the Criterium d’Abruzzo and the Trofeo Matteotti. Christian Wegmann a stage in the Bayern-Rundfahrt, Gerrit Glomser: Overall in the Tour of Austria with a stage and Mirko Celestino a stage in the Brixia Tour. Not a bad year considering all the changes but it would be the following year that would prove to be the best for the Cannondale riding Saeco men.
2003 was unbelievable, World champion with Igor Astarloa, Giro d’Italia overall with Gilberto Simoni with 3 stages and the Points jersey. Simoni also won the Giro del Trentino, the Giro dell’Appennino and a stage in the Tour de France. Astarloa also won Flèche Wallonne and a stage in Valencia. Gerrit Glomser again took the Tour of Austria with 2 stages. Danilo Di Luca won a stage in Tirreno-Adriatico and the Coppa Placci and the Tre Valli Varesine. Ivan Quaranta won stages in the Deutschland Tour, Qatar and Brixia Tour. Damiano Cunego showed his promise for the future by winning the Tour of Qinghai Lake. Others in the team also stood on the top step of the podium: Stefano Zanini, Mirko Celestino, Juan Manuel Fuentes, Fabio Sacchi and Nicola Gavazzi all had wins.
2004 was also a brilliant season for the men in red, but it was their last. It was Cunego’s turn to win the Giro d’Italia with four stages, he added to that: Lombardia, Trentino (2 stages) Giro dell’Appennino, GP Nobili, Memorial Marco Pantani, GP Industria & Artigianato and a handful of other wins.
The rest of the team had a storming season as Danilo Di Luca won the Brixia Tour and the Trofeo Matteotti, Simoni won a stage in the Giro d’Italia and the Giro del Veneto. Andreas Matzbacher, Leonardo Bertagnolli, Antonio Bucciero and Gerrit Glomser all had wins.
One Year with Lampre-Caffita
At the end of the year Saeco decided it didn’t want to be a team main sponsor and many of the riders moved to the Lampre-Caffita team for 2005. The team also rode on Cannondale bikes.
Lampre-Caffita team did not gel together as well as Saeco, there had been in-fighting between Cunego and Simoni and the results suffered. Cunego had four wins: Japan Cup, GP Nobili and the Trofeo Melinda, plus a stage win in Romandie. Simoni also had four wins: Memorial Marco Pantani, Appennino and Emilia, plus a stage in Paris-Nice. Daniele Bennati was the best winner with six wins: The Giro di Toscana and 3 stages in the Deutschland Tour and 2 in Pologne. While Alessandro Ballan took stage wins in the Eneco Tour and De Panne. Other wins came from Gerrit Glomser, Eddy Mazzoleni, Matteo Bono and Morris Possoni.
The Liquigas Years
In 2007 the Liquigas team swapped from Bianchi to Cannondale and the connection between the US bike company and an Italian team started again.
Danilo Di Luca was the best rider on the team that year with his overall wins in the Giro d’Italia and Milano-Torino, plus Liege-Bastogne-Liege and five other wins and many high placings. Filippo Pozzato had eight wins including Het Volk and Haut Var and many of the others in the team were racking up the prizes. Leonardo Bertagnolli in San Sebastian, Luca Paolini in De Panne, Roman Kreuziger in Lombardia and a young Vincenzo Nibali in a handful of races. The team was winning all year and everywhere they went.
2008 saw the same riders names at the top of the result sheets, except Di Luca who had left. Nibali, Bennati. Chicchi and Kreuziger were the men to watch. Lot’s of wins in smaller races and stages in every long race. The big wins came for Nibali with the overall in the Giro del Trentino, the Points jersey in the Giro d’Italia for Bennati (+3 stages) and Roman Kreuziger winning the overall in the Tour de Suisse. They also won two team time trials, in the Vuelta a España and the Coppi & Bartali.
Similar results in 2009, but with Ivan Basso and Frederik Willems joining Nibali, Kreuziger and Bennati on the winning trail. Bennati overall in Sardegna, Willems in De Panne, Basso in Trentino and Kreuziger in Romandie. Nibali won in Camaiore and Appennino. High point was the 2nd overall for Franco Pellizzotti, the low point would be him losing his KOM title in the Tour de France due to irregular blood values.
The big Grand Tour win came in the shape of Vincenzo Nibali’s 2010 Vuelta a España victory, his 3rd in the Giro d’Italia and winning the tour de San Luis and Tour of Slovénie wasn’t bad either. Daniele Bennati was still on the win trail as was a certain Peter Sagan who racked up wins in Paris-Nice, Romandie and California. Elia Viviani and Daniel Oss started to win and Kreuziger also won in Sardegna.
Cannondale became the second named sponsor in 2011, there was no Grand Tour success, but Nibali was 3rd in the Giro d ‘Italia. The other wins were spread throughout the season and the World. Peter Sagan started to come to the fore with wins in Sardegna, Suisse, Pologne, Spain and the GP in Prato. Basso, Viviani, Ponzi and Guarnieri all put their names at the top of the results.
2012 was the last year for the Liquigas/Cannondale collaboration. Again it was a season of diverse wins. Peter Sagan stepped up to win the Tour de France Green jersey along with wins everywhere. Moreno Moser won the Giro di Pologne, while Vincenzo Nibali took the Giro di Padania and Tirreno-Adriatico. Viviani and Basso joined in with triumphs of their own.
Cannondale took over as sole sponsor for the last two years of the team, but could not keep Vincenzo Nibali from leaving to join Astana. The team became a bit of a one-man band in 2013 as Sagan won from the start of the season right through to the end. A repeat of the Tour Green jersey and too many races to list here came to the Slovakian champion. Moser, Viviani and Damiano Caruso also had their places on the podium, but Cannondale was becoming the Sagan team.
This year, 2014, saw the end of a Cannondale team in Italy and Sagan was the main man again with his third tour de France Points win, he was joined in on the podium in Paris by team mate Alessandro de Marchi who was received the Tour Overall Combativity award. Sagan again had a long list of victories including the E3 Harelbeke. De Marchi, Oscar Gatto, Viviani and Maciej Bodnar had victories, but Sagan was the man.
Next year Cannondale will be with Slipstream, making up the Cannondale-Garmin squad and they recently announced their full roster who’ll definitely be riding on Cannondale’s – but will they be Argyle Cannondales?
Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling 2015
Tom Jelte Slagter
Dylan Van Baarle