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Behind the Cap

Cycling sponsors tend to come and go. Many stick around for a year or two, fulfil their commitments and then disappear into the rear view mirror of cycling history. Others like Lampre and Quickstep have seemed to have been around for ages. But what products are these companies actually trying to promote ? Some are household names, but others are a little more obscure especially to cycling fans outside the sponsor’s home market.



The super team of the early seventies made famous by probably the greatest cyclist ever, Eddy Merckx. Sometimes confused with the kitchen company of the same name, Molteni were a sausage maker from Arcore, just outside of Monza. The team ran from 1958 to 1976 with a total of 663 wins. Not sure how many extra sausages were sold though.

Team Z


The Z in Team Z stands for Zeta Vetements – a French children’s clothing store. The team’s origins can be found in the Peugeot cycling team and were known as Vétements Z-Peugeot (1987), Z-Peugeot (1988-89), Z-Tomasso (1990), Z (1991–92) the team went onto become Gan (1992-1998) and Credit Agricole (1998-2008).

Notable riders in the Z years when the kit had the pop art style exploding graphics were Greg Lemond and Robert Millar two of the coolest riders in the peloton. Back in the nineties many of us rode in this kit emulating our heroes. Little did we know that they were acting as a billboard for baby grows.

St Raphael

st raphael

in 1954 St Raphael became one of the first extra-sportif(company outside of the cycling industry) sponsors of professional racing. The French drinks company manufactures an aperitif that contains quinine and cocoa amongst other things.

In the 1950’s St Raphael and its sister company Rapha sponsored riders including Tom Simpson, Jaques Anquetil, Raphaël Géminiani and Jean Stablinski.

Mercatone Uno


This Italian supermarket chain that specialises in white goods were the title sponsors for teams from 1992-1995 and 1997 to 2003. It’s second stint as being a title sponsor came about when the Carrera team folded and their manager Davide Boifava wanted to build a team around its star rider Marco Pantani.

Mercatone Uno allegedly withdrew its sponsorship in 2003 on Pantani’s retirement with many of the team moving to Barlowworld.




Often confused with the New York borough due to Spike Lee wearing a cycling cap in the 1986 film ‘She’s Gotta Have It’ and early Nike adverts, Brooklyn were an Italian chewing gum manufacturer that named its product after the famous bridge.

The Milanese company sponsored a cycling team in the 1970’s and its most famous riders were brothers Erik and Roger de Vlaeminck who were the greats of cyclocross and the Paris Roubaix.



mapei cap

Italian based Mapei sponsor cycling due to a love of the sport and their brightly coloured logo’s are instantly recognisable. Despite not having sponsored a team for over a decade the company still is actively involved in the promotion of its brand through cycling.

Mapei manufactures tile adhesive and grout. Whether there are a lot of tilers that like cycling is a different subject all together.



The bright yellow Kas jerseys are synonymous with 80’s Irish cyclist Sean Kelly. The Spanish brand manufactures a fruit based soft drink and is now owned by Pepsi.

The brand may be unfamiliar in many countries it is available in cycling mad Spain and France.



Sponsors of a cycling team from 1963 to 1972, Salvarani manufacture kitchen components. The team’s most famous rider was Felice Gimondi who won the world championship in 1972. After Salvarani withdrew their sponsorship the team became Bianchi-Campagnolo – two of the biggest names in Italian cycling.