PEZ Interviews: Marcello Bergamo
A top level pro career only lasts for so long, and what to do in the “after-life” can be a much bigger challenge than any race for many. Some stay in the cycling business, and if you’re good – you’re still here after 25 years. Marcello Bergamo raced in the 1970’s with the likes of Gimondi and Merckx – but in retirement started his own cycling sportswear company. I met Marcello on my trip to the Giro…
Italy is a country full of the bike business – there are uncountable makers of bikes, parts, and other gear for riding. The big brands we know in North America are only the tip of the iceberg, but there are many more companies throughout Italy producing top-quality goods for cycling.
How many of us can pose beside a poster of ourselves battling Felice Gimondi? Marcello Bergamo can.
One of these is called Bergamo Maglifico Sportivo – that’s Bergamo Sports Clothing to you Buckwheat… They’ve been making top-end cycling kit for about 25 years, and were started by Italian ex-pro racer Marcello Bergamo. He’s tough – he raced back in the 1970’s when a typical season included at least two Grand Tours – and often three!
The first time I heard about the Bergamo clothing company was just last year, but since they were Italian, I was keen to try out their wares. We’ve reviewed a bunch of their stuff – including summer kit, and winter kit – and have found it to be well made, durable, and priced lower than stuff of its quality should be.
I was impressed enough to select Bergamo as the official supplier of the (very cool) PezCycling team kit – which by now you’ve seen splashed all over this website. My trip to the Giro this year would not have been complete without a personal visit to the Bergamo factory to see exactly how our stuff is made, and to meet the man himself – Marcello Bergamo.
The amount of logo id on the main office is typical of a company that puts product quality above marketing and hype.
The operation is located just outside Milan in the town of Castano Primo and is a classically Italian, family-run business. Marcello Bergamo started the company, and his wife, two daughters, and sons-in-law all work in the business.
They specialize in technical riding gear – jerseys, shorts, vests, armwarmers, tights, jackets and more. The Bergamo clothing line is imported to North America by Upland Sports Group, who work closely with Marcello and Marco to develop a line of gear that ins many respects differs from the typical Euro-lines – given that North American tastes are a little different.
Bergamo’s MLD4 chamois – the La-z-boy of chamois.
Their custom clothing for clubs and teams has been very popular in Europe, and this past year has grown considerably in North America as the Bergamo brand name becomes more well known. The kit they produced for us has performed very well and we’re sticking with ‘em.
But enough about us – let’s get onto our little chat with Marcello!
I’m in the right place, let’s see who’s home….
About The Business
Pez: Why did you get into the clothing business – how did you decide to do this after your career as a racer?
Marcello: I started the business of bike wear in the ’78, in the beginning with wool clothing and in the ’85 with printing systems, it was as complete change to all the production process. The idea to produce clothing started in the last 2 years of my career when me and the other “old” pro riders we were thinking about the future after racing.
PEZ is “In” with the family. Left to right are Marco, Alessandra, Marcello, Roberto and Sabrina.
Pez: Was it something you enjoyed from the start, or did it take some time?
Marcello: Surely the passion and enthusiasm at the start is the most strongly and remembered, but fortunately during more than 25 years of activity there have been a lot of good things.
Marcello checks out my story on the Colle della Finestre.
Pez: What’s the philosophy of the Bergamo company, in terms of making clothing for a certain buyer?
Marcello: I always considered that the riders want the best product at the best price, so I always consider to find the best solution at the best price to be competitive in the international market.
Pez: What is the intended experience that you want for the person wearing your clothes? Does Bergamo have a competitive advantage (in design, or pricing, materials, etc ) over other brands?
Marcello: I try to give to my customer a good mix of comfort, quality,
innovative fabric and the satisfaction that the price payed is the best one.
Pez: What is your favorite part of your work now?
Marcello: I like to continuously study all the best possible production solutions, the research of material, fabrics, and printing development. Also to note that the job started a lot of years ago, and is now a solid company, and considering the strong world economy, we’re present in every part of the world with good partnerships and able to grow our business and increase our market share.
The only autograph I wanted from the Giro… from the man himself.
About The Man
Pez: You still ride – do you ride with a club, a team, or do you ride with any of your old teammates?
Marcello: Usually I ride a couple of times per week with some friends. In my town, Castano Primo, there’s a place where every Sunday morning a lot of riders, young and not, meet and begin all together the ride, sometimes more than 30/40 guys.
Pez: What was your greatest moment as a racer?
Marcello: ’73 and ’74 with Filotex of Bitossi, I won the Milano-Torino, Giro della Campania, Giro del Levante, 2nd place in the Italian National championship.
Look what I found on display in their showroom!
Pez: What was your biggest disappointment as a racer?
Marcello: In the ’77 at the top of my training, I was again 2nd place in the Italian National championship. In the next race I broke my shoulder and I stopped for all the year, I decided to stop my professional activity because I was thinking about new job, but in the winter time the team manager Cribiori, convinced me to continue for ’78. I restarted the professional riding, but in the spring time I made my final decision to stop the career.
Pez: Do you still follow racing, or do you have other pursuits that are more interesting now?
Marcello: I’m Vice president of the local junior team PEDALE CASTANESE, I like to follow the young people to give my suggestions and support for their future.
Stay tuned for our very cool photo tour of the Bergamo factory – and see how top-end cycling kit is made.
Check out the Bergamo Website
Get more info at the Upland Sports Group Website: www.UPLANDSG.com