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Mario Cipollini: "Modern Cycling Lacks Machismo!"

Mario Cipollini has been vocal on his belief that modern cycling "lacks machismo".  Photo: © Bettini

Back in the day, "Super Mario" Cipollini used to show up to the start line in flamboyant (illegal) team kits, with beautiful women at his side.  It created a spectacle before the start of the race, creating exposure for himself and his team.  He also oozed confidence which messed with the heads of his competitors.

At the finish line, the result was often "Super Mario" crossing the line first - using both speed, aggression, and "machismo".  This machismo he speaks of was just as important for him off the bike as it was on the bike.  Whether he won or lost, his competitors were his competitors and it was his goal to always win.  It was always "game day" for Mario.

In a recent interview with French newspaper L'Equipe, Cipollini said, “I lived a very different cycling.  At the beginning of a sprint, I felt like a gladiator, ready to do anything to keep my place. And when I lost, I wasn’t capable of going to congratulate whoever had beaten me, like Andy Schleck did at the Tour. Me, I’d hate him because he’d taken the bread from my mouth."  Think of this what you will, but the fact is that few people have won more bicycle races than Cipollini - this is a formula that worked for him!

Whether you were a competitor or a race official, Mario demanded respect and didn't take guff from anyone!

In the same interview with L'Equipe, Cippolini continued, “Seeing Schleck and Contador embrace on the Tourmalet after crossing the line and then seeing Contador affectionately pinch Schleck’s cheek during his interview was unreal for me,” Cipollini commented. “Logically, Schleck should have been raging, he had just lost the Tour after all.  After the chain slip incident on the Port de Balès, he should have attacked the Spaniard day after day, in front of the microphones and on the air too, without giving him time to piss!”

Mario says he can't find true machismo anywhere in the modern peloton.  In summary, he finished the L'Equipe interview by saying, “I read an interview with Umberto Veronesi, a scientist, a reputed oncologist and Minister for Health,” Cipollini continued. “In five hundred years or more, human beings might have both sets of genitalia, male and female. I don’t want this evolution to have started already in cycling…”

What do you think, does modern cycling lack machismo?  Is today's peloton boring and not aggressive enough in and out of competition?  Mario thinks so.  Regardless of where you fall on this issue, you have to admire "Super Mario" for speaking out.  He is as memorable off the bike as we was on it!

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