Mario Cipollini was born in the Tuscan city of Lucca on 22 March 1967 and grew up in the nearby village of San Giusto di Compito. He has two daughters, Lucrezia and Rachele. A precocious talent, he won eighty races in the junior categories, including the World Junior Championships in the 1985 team time trial. As an amateur he gave the strongest specialists a hard time, including Germany’s Olaf Ludwig. He turned professional in 1989 when he put on the Del Tongo team jersey. He remained with Del Tonga until 1991. Subsequently, he joined Mg-Bianchi (1992-1993), Mercatone Uno-Saeco (1994-1995), Saeco (his “historical” team where he spent six seasons, from 1996 to 2001), Acqua & Sapone (the magic 2002), Domina Vacanze (2003-2004), Liquigas Bianchi (2005) and Rock & Republic in 2008.
During his extraordinary career, in which he was victorious in each of the 17 seasons he competed, he had 189 victories, earning the reputation as the strongest sprinter of all time. Over the years, champions like Vanderaerden, Van Poppel, Freuler, Abdujaparov, Whiskers, Nelissen, Minali, Svorada, Leoni, Steels, Zabel, O’Grady, McEwen and Petacchi have all paid tribute to his greatness.
Nicknamed the “Lion King” for the majesty of his style and power of his final sprint, he broke several records. With 42 stage wins he is the multi-winner of the Giro d’Italia (Tour of Italy), where he also wore the pink jersey for six consecutive days and was three-time winner of the cyclamen jersey for points classification (1992, 1997 and 2002). In the Tour de France, where he garnered 12 stage wins, making him the best Italian cyclist of all time along with Gino Bartali, he led the peloton on the fastest stage in the Tour’s history, averaging more than 50 km/h over 194.5 km. This allowed him to win the Laval-Blois on 7 July 1999. In the same tour he wore the yellow jersey for six days.
World Champion in 2002 in Zolder, Belgium, with the highest average in history (46.583 km/h), Cipollini also conquered the Milan-San Remo (2002) and was a three-time winner of Ghent-Wevelgem (1992, 1993 and 2002). He has also won an Italian championship (1996) and has three stage wins in the Vuelta (2002). Throughout his career he collected 140 stage victories and was able to win on three continents: Europe, America (stage winner of the 2004 Tour of Georgia) and Asia (stage winner in the 2005 Tour of Qatar).
At the beginning of a season in which he had already earned two victories, he officially retired on 26 April 2005. After a short comeback in 2008, when he raced with the American team Rock & Republic, Mario Cipollini decided to devote himself to his new business. Having always wanted to put his experience at the disposal of new generations of cyclists, he created a clothing line and a range of carbon steel road bikes that are produced exclusively in Italy.