Presented in Milan the noble initiative of the family that, for almost twenty years, linked its name to an extraordinary professional team, and that now brings help to former cyclists in difficulty
On the eve of the "Classicissima," one of the most exciting and spectacular races on the international calendar, the first major event in the season of two wheels, the great family of cycling met in Milan for a special occasion, one of those circumstances in which sport manages to "fly high" making itself the bearer of truly noble messages and initiatives. The "Ambrogio Molteni Foundation" was officially presented on Friday, March 22, at the Sala Buzzati, at RCS (the Gazzetta dello Sport is, in fact, the project's "Media Partner").
A Foundation that from the very beginning stands out for the goal that this project is inspired by bringing concrete help to former professionals or young cycling talents in difficulty because they fell into poverty or were victims of disabling injuries. To make this possible, the Molteni family, in the name and memory of their father Ambrogio, who at the end of the '50s gave life to the first true international cycling team, whose over 600 victories made era for almost twenty years.
Mario and Pierangela Molteni, children of the Brianza entrepreneur who invented a unique suede-blue jersey worn by the great Eddy Merckx, still sought after by collectors today, were guided by the desire to restore to cycling at least part of the success that cycling gave to that brand (no longer on the market).
"In all of the sports, it is not uncommon to find very bitter stories of protagonists whose destiny has turned its back on them. We just want to remember our father by committing ourselves to a virtuous circuit that can bring relief to the less fortunate protagonists of cycling," explained Mario and Pierangela Molteni in a beautiful evening, full of emotions and memories, honored by the presence of numerous authorities, personalities, and champions of the past, first of all, Eddy Merckx, and his great rival Felice Gimondi.
Obtained the patronage of the Italian Cycling Federation, the project - also supported by the Lombardy Region - aims in the first year of activity to bring concrete help to at least two former athletes, preferably a man and a woman, who will be chosen by a committee specially appointed by the Foundation, based on reports received from sports organizations and individuals, both in Italy and abroad. The names of the first beneficiaries will be announced by the end of 2019.
The glorious Molteni jersey, in its traditional shape, will be the symbol of this shared commitment and a sign of particular gratitude to those who will show attention and generosity in supporting the cause of the Ambrogio Molteni Foundation. Donations will also be possible from athletes and fans who wish to make a small contribution through the foundation's official website (DONATE).
A GLORIOUS TEAM
Molteni was, in fact, the first great international team in professional cycling after the war, both for the length of time the brand remained on the riders' jerseys (18 years, from 1958 to 1976) and for the impressive number of successes achieved, a good 663.
Thanks to the dominating seasons of Eddy Merckx - who wore the Molteni jersey for six years, from 1971 to 1976, achieving 246 victories - and of many other great champions such as Rudy Altig, Gianni Motta, Michele Dancelli, Marino Basso, and many others like Michele Dancelli, Marino Basso, the colors of Molteni have been on practically every finish line.
On the whole, in the 18 seasons of activity, 124 athletes have worn the Molteni jersey, of which 77 Italians.
A summary speaks of:
- 8 overall victories in the Grand Tours (4 times in the Giro d'Italia, 3 in the Tour de France and 1 in the Vuelta in España) with 102 stage wins;
- 23 national championships;
- 15 "monument" classics (3 Lombardia, 5 Milano-Sanremo, 5 Liege-Bastogne-Liege, 1 Paris-Roubaix, 1 Tour of Flanders);
- 3 World Championships (Altig 1966, Merckx 1971 and 1974);
- 1-hour record (Merckx 1972).
FROM LONDON TO MILAN, THE MAGIC OF A JERSEY
Dusting off the Molteni brand and image - staying true to the graphics and colors of the time - was functional in giving historical meaning to the commitment the Molteni family intends to continue in cycling.
After more than forty years, almost as if by magic, the legendary Molteni brand reappeared in cycling in London on October 23, 2018. At the Six Days of London, two pairs of athletes brought back to the memory of sportsmen and women the legendary suede-blue jersey that accompanied the victories of so many great champions and one (Eddy Merckx) most of all.
It was an exciting "revival" in a major international event in the country that has imposed itself in the limelight of cycling sport more than any other in the last decade—the beginning of a new story that tonight in Milan experienced its first official act.
HOW THE FOUNDATION WILL OPERATE
The Molteni family has undertaken to support the Foundation, ensuring that it is fully operational immediately and guaranteeing the economic coverage of the project regardless of the volume and entity of contributions and donations that will be received from third parties.
The creation of an official logo and a coordinated image is functional to a series of communication activities and initiatives to which the Foundation will give life, not for self-referential purposes, but to enhance the aims of the project and produce opportunities for the benefit of the former athletes who will benefit from it.
Generating attention and "reputation" around the Foundation responds to the objective of creating a spirit of strong solidarity among those who love cycling to bring significant help to those in need, determining as much as possible a better quality of life of the people who will be chosen as beneficiaries of the Foundation's commitment.
IMMEDIATELY AT THE SIDE OF THE FOUNDATION
The Italian Cycling Federation has patronized the Foundation as the bearer of a strong feeling of solidarity within the Italian and international cycling family, linking stories and protagonists of different eras.
The Lombardy Region, with which the Molteni Foundation project has been shared for the necessary formal steps, has expressed its appreciation for an initiative whose protagonist is a family of entrepreneurs from Brianza who has had, even in the world of cycling, a role of primary importance.
The Gazzetta dello Sport, yesterday as today a point of reference for great cycling, is a media partner of the Ambrogio Molteni Foundation.
Eddy Merckx: "Molteni is the jersey to which I am tied with the fondest memories, a partnership that since the first year was dazzling. When I met Mr. Ambrogio, I decided to sign instantly, and it was definitely an excellent choice. The team was working at full speed, and Giorgio Albani was a perfect director."
Felice Gimondi: "No one more than me has the Molteni jersey in their memory, even if I had never worn it: I had to compete with Merckx, and those colors were always in front of my eyes because I was constantly chasing him. I am deeply impressed by this initiative; the Molteni Foundation will do remarkable things exactly like the team that was".
Gianni Motta: "Molteni was my team in the fullest sense of the word, here I started my professional career, here I won the Giro d'Italia and the Lombardia. Beyond the satisfaction and successes, it was a unique team because it really felt like a family".
Michele Dancelli: "My Sanremo is the most precious gem I shared with the Molteni family. When another team arrived offering me more money, I accepted, putting myself in trouble because I had signed two contracts. Ambrogio Molteni told me: go ahead; you will come back with us. And it happened".
Davide Cassani: "The Molteni jersey is that of the dream; they are the colors I saw as a child falling in love with cycling. Every time I see this jersey, my heart skips a bit, but this newly born Foundation shows that the big heart is that of a family that has given so much to cycling and continues to do so.”
Roberta Guaineri (Councilor for Sport for the Municipality of Milan): "What the Molteni family has decided to do is very “Milanese,” an act of great generosity that shows how special everything that has to do with the bicycle is. Such a project had to be born in Milan, a city that loves two wheels like no other".
Milan, 22 March 2019