Fondriest tells about | La Primavera at the Vigorelli

Maurizio Fondriest guides us to discover Milano-Sanremo and of the historical start from the Maspes-Vigorelli velodrome.

Words by Maurizio | Styling by Beatrice

17 March 2022 

Built in 1935 as the heir of the Sempione velodrome, the Vigorelli became in a few years a symbol of Milan with the six-days-riders who populated the thunderous nights around a track destined to become iconic also for the historical Faliero Masi workshop. Under the track itself, Masi forged the bicycles of Merckx, Coppi, Anquetil, as if they were art pieces that could take off. WIth the bombs that ravaged the city in 1944 and the snowfall in 1985 that devastated the roof, the Vigorelli has risen over and again, without ever losing its legendary aura. On 19 March, Milano-Sanremo will set off from this symbolic place to cover just under three-hundred kilometres linking the city to the sea. Maurizio Fondriest tells us about his bond with this race, a journey that has been made for one hundred and thirteen springs and promises heart-stopping moves, attacks and counterattacks in a dive towards the narrow Via Roma, the historic red carpet of a symphonic Monument. 


My greatest Vittoria

Milano-Sanremo is undoubtedly my favourite race for many reasons. I’ve tried to win it in many editions and I’ve always come pretty close, but in 1993 everything changed. That morning, before kicking off, I received the news of the birth of my first daughter Maria Vittoria and I was in seventh heaven, in that state of grace that you need to win this race. The Classicissima looks easy on paper but it’s one of the most difficult races to win because it’s so unpredictable. As a born puncheur, I knew very well that I had to attack on the Poggio to make a difference. That day, however, it wasn’t just strategy that counted. I felt something special inside – a sort of bravado I had never experienced before and  never found again afterwards – which allowed me to be one hundred percent sure of my chances. While racing, I was focused but at the same time I felt carefree: a lucky combination that gave me an extra quid to win.

At the Vigorelli on Moser’s bike

I did my military service in Milan in the athletes’ company and I remember very well when I took part in the Italian Stationary Kilometre Championships. I was certainly not a kilometre runner but the Trentino Committee asked me to prepare for a test on the track. There was so little time to train that I chose that discipline. So, I called Francesco Moser – we had the same bike size – and I borrowed one of his bicycles. At the time there weren’t many teams that gave out bodysuits, so I took one of my own, a fully red one, and I remember it like it was yesterday. I rode for the first time on the historic Vigorelli ring, which was a fun experience but also one I’ll never forget.


The prestige of iconic places 

In cycling, places have a profound significance. Starts and finishes can give great prestige to the competition. I’m thinking of places that leave you speechless, such as Piazza Duomo for the Giro d’Italia, the Colosseum for the Giro del Lazio or Piazza del Campo for the Strade Bianche, exceptional stages that give character and personality to the event. For this reason, the departure from the Vigorelli will only increase the value of this great Monument race.