In Lucca, Tuscany on March 22, 1967, Mario Cipollini as ushered into the world and would one day become one of the most noted professional cyclists of all time. Noted for his flamboyant, “pretty boy” image, Mario has enjoyed a winsome career, as well as much of the spotlight of the sport with his handsome appearance, flashy dress and plentiful head of hair that got him the name, “The Lion King” and “Mario the Magnificent.” While much has been said about Mario’s personal life and penchant for the ladies, Mario has been married for much of his career and has even been known to make fun of the things that have been said about his rumored womanizing, such as, “If I weren’t a professional cyclist, I’d be a porn star.”
Mario Cipollini – skilled Sprinter
Cipollini is a renowned sprinter in cycling. In his career, Mario Cipollini was unrivaled in the sport, especially related to sprinting, having the only sprint train in cycling. These members of his team would come behind him in the race and help him keep top speeds while hedging him from being able to be taken over last minute of another competing cyclist. This sharp strategy, coupled with his inherent sprinting abilities catapulted him to cycling stardom and put his name in the history books as setting the most consecutive stage wins in the Tour De France since WWII. His sprinting abilities led to other competitors focusing more on this skill, most notably, Italian cyclist, Alessandro Petacchi.
The Controversial Competitor
This oft controversial cyclist has had his share of international press with some of the antics that he has pulled in this competitive sport, namely his outlandish, costume-like racing uniforms. Mario, ever the cheeky personality, has been fined thousands of Lira for uniforms that were not in keeping with race expectations or proved to be garish to race officials. Being fined never seemed to stop him from coming back once again with a more flamboyant uniform the next time though. One example of his peacockish attire was a now famous muscle skin suit which not only got him a hefty monetary penalty but paid out 100 times the fine price when it was auctioned for charity. The Tour de France served him with a fine for daring to wear skin suit colored entirely in bright yellow. These are the kinds of things that brought Mario attention on the international circuit, not just for performance but gaudy style in racing uniforms.
This cyclist has been winning stages and tours in and out of Italy throughout his illustrious career. For Italian competitions, Mario Cipollini has certainly seen a lot of success in days of riding. Mario took the Road World Championships in 2002 and also the Milan-San Remo race both won by Mario in the same year. As far as stage wins, Mario won 42 of them at the Giro d’Italia with his final stage win at that competition in 2003 beating the world famous Alfredo Binda’s record that had stood since 1933. Of this accomplishment, Mario had this humble statement to say about Binda, “I would have been happy just to polish his shoes.”
As far as wins in other parts of the word, Mario has had plenty of them. At the Tour De France, Cipollini saw 12 stage wins. During his competitions with the Vuelta a Espana, he took 3 stage wins. This well-decorated cyclist decidedly made his mark on the cycling world during his season of competing. At the end of his racing career, Mario suffered a loss following a crash in 2003 at the Giro d’Italia. Cipollini stated that it was this crash that ended his career. Mario only entered on other race for Giro following the accident and it was the only time he ever entered this race without winning a single stage. His retirement was officially announced in 2005 just before the Giro d’Italia.
Following his retirement, Mario Cipollini appeared on the racing circuit one other time in 2008 with Michael Ball’s Rock Racing for the Tour of California. His time with Ball’s team would be short-lived though, as Mario could not come to an agreement with the team on his leadership role. Mario never returned to the sport of cycling as a competitor again.
Mario Cipollini has still stayed active in the sport even if he is not competing. In 2010, Mario produced his own bicycle line Cipollini, competing with Bianchi, Cannondale, Specialized and other top brands. His brand was used by the UCI Professional Continental team, Vini Fantini-Selle Italia.