Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Mad Props Vol. 9

This picture of Maurizio Fondriest is one of my earliest memories of professional cycling. His stoic determination and grit seemed to radiate out of the photograph. The splendor of the Alfa - Lum (with World Champion stripes) kit flirted with the wondrous green and white of his Legnano with orange tape.

And those eyes! That fixed gaze off camera was conquest in it's rawest form. He seemed to say "I will take this competition and shit it out my ass!" My long search for a role model had finally ended.

This was true poetry in motion. In my mind, the photo became a flowing canvas that was alive and strangely animalistic. It breathed, suffered, ascended, descended, sprinted, and won and lost. I wanted to be a part of that. I wanted to be like Maurizio Fondriest.

Maurizio Fondriest stunned the world in 1988 when he snatched victory in the World Championship Road Race ahead of a crash involving the two would be 1-2 podium finishers of Claude Criquileon and Steve Bauer. Regardless of where your alliances lie, Fondriest certainly wore his new stripes well in the years that followed.

If 1988 was a foreshadowing of things to come, 1991 was confirmation. That was the year Maurizio won his first World Cup. His consistency as a professional in the european peloton was duly noted and Fondriest found himself a marked man.

1993 Blessed Fondriest's palmares with a dizzying 23 professional victories including Milan - San Remo, Fleche Wallone, GP du Midi Libre (3 stages and overall), and a stage in the Giro d'Italia. His dominance that year was repayed with a second overall victory in the World Cup.

In 1995 Maurizio was at it again when he claimed victory in a Giro d'Italia stage and finished second in Ghent - Wevelgem, Milan - San Remo, Fleche - Wallone, and Tirreno Adriatico overall.

Fondriest was one of the classiest riders of the peloton and one of a handful that truly inspired me to ride my bike. For that, Maurizio gets Mad Props 2x.

8 comments:

Tim Jackson- Masi Guy said...

I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Maurizio this year at Eurobike. His bike booth was right behind ours. A mutual friend found out that I was a huge fan and arranged for me to meet him. He stepped out of his booth to speak to me, with our translator to help. I was introduced as the head of Masi and he looked at me and smiled- a warm smile of recognition of the brand I steward and an, dare I say it, acknowledgment of brotherhood as another part of the bike family. He had questions about my bikes and I complimented him on his beautiful new machines and told him of my appreciation of his race wins and his career. He then went on to tell me about winning Milan-San Remo... I was speechless.

He is more "classy" in person than one would imagine. And still looks like he could manage a stage win!

solobreak said...

Mau was the man.

The King said...

Anyone who has risen to the status of having a bike brand named after them is good in my book.

Strangelife said...

Tim- Thanks for sharing and reinforcing my image of him. A Milan-San Remo victory in his own words...lucky.

solo/king- Indeed.

Ron said...

I'm looking for YouTube videos of him..

Ari said...

I had no doubt that my son was going to be named Maurizio. When he got older I one day told him about why I chose his name. I showed him the photo of Fondriest and the kid's eyes just lit up. I notice his pride in being named after a world champion. Someday I will get a chance to ride with my Mau again.
Ari

Patrick said...

Hi

I found this site by accident when I was looking for something in Maurizio's palmares. He is a good friend of mine and I have ridden often with him. He is one of the best human beings you will ever come across. He is exactly like you would think he is.

Pat O'Hare

Strangelife said...

Thanks for stopping by, Patrick. Both you and Tim Jackson have reinforced my early convictions of the stature and personality of Maurizio. He serves the "Mad Props" status well.

s