While BikeRadar took Campagnolo’s new Bora Ultra 35 wheels for a spin at the Campagnolo Gran Fondo New York, the wheels were officially unveiled last week as a side order to a much larger main course. Campagnolo are celebrating their 80th anniversary this year, and they weren’t about to let it pass without notice.
With the Giro d’Italia due to pass through town later that afternoon, Campagnolo invited some racing legends to their Vicenza factory to reminisce about the component maker’s past. The guest list read like a who’s who of the sport: Greg LeMond, Eddy Merckx, Miguel Indurain, Felice Gimondi, Andy Hampsten, Francesco Moser, Mario Cipollini and Jan Janssen to name just a few – BikeRadar counted 33 grand tour victories in the room, not to mention the glut of classic and world championship victories. Each rider was invited onto the stage to recall their chapter from Campagolo’s illustrious history. Well, almost all – Cipollini only made an appearance much nearer the finish, a tactic, let’s be honest, he used to great effect throughout his career.
During the celebration much of Campagnolo’s origin story was shared: Tulio Campagnolo founded the company in 1933 after a flat during a race. That first component, the quick-release skewer, came to him when, in freezing conditions, he was unable to get the wheel off to fix the flat. That part you’ve already probably heard But Campagnolo being commissioned to make parts for the moon landings? That was news to us.
Campagnolo staffers also talked about how the original Campagnolo athlete, Gino Bartali, often argued with Tulio about what he believed was best. The pair were perfectionists – always a recipe for arguments.
Then Janssen stepped up, followed one by one by the others, each recalling the highlights of their careers while associated with the company, including Moser, who counts winning the ’84 Giro after years of trying as number one. The day ended seemingly according to script with a Giro d’Italia stage win as Movistar’s Giovanni Visconti soloed to victory in downtown Vicenza. With all eyes on their past in the morning, the Italian company demonstrated that afternoon that their present isn’t in bad shape either.