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Courtesy :k
It all started here: 2003. It was the brainchild of former fi’zi:k Marketing Director, Massimo Fregonese. He deserves accolades as the idea blossomed into what represents the :k today: it IS a key component of fi’zi:k branding. Today, we prefer our logo be there or no where at all.
The identity of the bum in the Saeco-Cannondale – fi’zi:k bum logo photo is unknown but is one of several Saeco team members who participated in the 2003 San Francisco Gran Prix. That race now sadly defunct, is among the peloton’s favorite race venues not only for the course and the fans but for the opportunity to hang in what is considered by many to be the most beautiful and most-European city in America. The bum is not Gilberto Simoni’s. He’s sitting next to Damiano Cunego (left of Cunego, you can see his leg). The photo was taken at Café Roma in San Francisco; Saturday morning, pre-race day. The guys agreed to stop in for an espresso prior to a jaunt across the Golden Gate Bridge. It was tradition. Mario Cipollini had made this a regular stop when he raced in the SF GP. He’d drop in unannounced, jump behind the counter, and pour a few espressos for whoever happened to be in line for a morning jolt.

The participating 2003 Team Saeco SF Gran Prix roster included Simoni and Cunego. Simoni had been victorious a few months earlier at the Giro d’Italia while riding fi’zi:k’s new and not yet introduced Arione, the saddle that ultimately changed the landscape of global saddle sales among all brands. Some lost, some gained. Simoni will forever be credited with a significant portion of fi’zi:k gains.

Perhaps most interesting about this day and unbeknownst to most, occured later that Saturday, post-ride. The guys were due for an appearance at Big Swingin’ Cycles, the City’s top Cannondale dealer. I met the guys at the hotel and guided them over (w/ Leonardo Bertagnolli in the passenger seat). We drove the course route as most of the team had not yet seen the famed Taylor and Fillmore St. climbs despite our earlier ride. These are climbs that decimated the peloton from about 150 starters to 25 finishers on the final bell lap of the first SF Gran Prix in 2002. Subsequent years, many opted for a triple or a compact, but at minimum a 53-25. Otherwise, you were a DNF merely measuring success by laps completed.

The scene was Big Swingin’ Cycles at their former Lombardi St. location. Gibo was the star and inside, Cannondale’s The Quest (documenting Simoni’s 2003 Giro victory) played on a continuous loop. Outside on the sidewalk, I sat with Cunego and Bertagnolli, sucking in the September sunshine while working through communicative language barriers. Current Saeco DS, Claudio Corti, exited the shop, meeting us on the sidewalk exclamating Vai, vai! Autografe! or something to that effect (come on guys, time for autographs). When Corti departed, Cunego said, “Dai…they don’t care about us, it’s about Gibo.”

No one could have predicted what would happen later in 2004. That was the year that our logo grew exponentially – emblazoned on the upper panel of the shorts where you see it today. It was also the year that Cunego won the Giro – the year that was, in all likelihood, Gibo’s last realistic opportunity to win the coveted Italian race. And…the year the media were forever blessed with yet another mano-a-mano-one-for-the-history-books team in-fighting Grande Tour episode perfectly punctuated with Simoni’s infamous “Il Bastardo!” comment following Cunego’s crucial Stage 18 victory (not his first of that Giro), cementing his impending overall victory.

We were there. We were on the bums when Simoni and Cunego were teammates with an understanding. We were on the bums when facades were in order and leadership was in question on Lampre. We were on the bums when they segregated and separated with Simoni off to Saunier-Duval, each as leaders and competitors with similar goals. We are still under their bums, often unmarked and incognito, but we are there.

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