In defeat after the 1993 Paris-Roubaix, when asked if he had made any errors, a distraught Ballerini replied “Yes, I made the mistake of becoming a bike racer.”
Thankfully he returned to win in 1995 and 1998 and become an icon of the race and of the 90's powerhouse Mapei squad.
I had the chance to meet Franco at the world cup. I can't speak Italian very well, and his english is only a little better. With only visual cues I managed to ask if he'd sign my Mapei cap. I wondered how special it must have been to be there, what the crust of mud on the face feels like, the hollow legs at the end.
Museeuw maybe the Lions of Flanders, but Franco had twice the heart and humility and I'm grateful to have met him, if only for a moment and shared a smile and a handshake.
Bup Bup Balla!
The brief was a Mapei Team bike replica and I think between SB and fyxo we cobbled it together nicely. Not as nice as some Ambrosio tubulars would have been, but definitely on the podium.
The frame though not new would pass for a 9 in my opinion. 9.5 in the sunlight, and 10 now that she's rolling.
Complete NOS 7700 Team Issue Dura Ace 9 speed groupset.
Easton bars, Colnago ITM stem, Colnago bar tape, Record headset.
Mavic Open Pro hard anodised rims, Veloflex Master rubber.
Assembled meticulously by Shifterbikes.