By VeloNews Interactive
The Mapei team held its official team launch Saturday, revealing a massive outfit that enters the 2001 season with an emphasis on young talent and internationals. Twenty-four of Mapei’s 41 riders are Italian, but this year’s line-up includes athletes from 12 different nations.
Mapei’s youth movement is carried by eight new professionals, including teenagers Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland and Bernhard Eisel of Austria. Other promising young riders making their debut in the professional ranks include under-23 world champion Yevgeny Petrov of Russia and Czech hope Pavel Zerzan. Petrov, 22, was ranked first in world governing body the International Cycling Union’s (UCI) under-23 world rankings last season. Twenty of the 41 riders are under 26.
“This team is another illustration of our investment in youth,” said Mapei president Giorgio Squinzi at the launch.
Mapei has also added some experience in the form of Australia’s Olympic gold medal winner Scott McGrory and Stefano Garzelli of Italy. Garzelli had long played second fiddle as Marco Pantani’s enforcer in the Mercatone Uno outfit but his victory in the Giro d’Italia last year finally saw him emerge from the shadows. With Mapei, he will lead the team’s bid in that event.
“My primary objective remains the Giro,” said the 27-year-old from Varese. “And then maybe we will see how the Tour goes. But for the 2002 season the Tour de France will be my principal objective and also that of the team.”
McGrory’s signing, in contrast, will boost Mapei’s strength in track racing. Other experienced campaigners in the Mapei ranks include Belgian Tom Steels — a nine-time stage winner in the Tour de France — and Italian Andrea Tafi, winner of the 1999 Paris-Roubaix.
Copyright AFP 2001