The story behind our all-rounder Mendrisio, a bike for long days in the saddle
1971 was the first year Eddy Merckx rode for Molteni. With this Italian team, he would achieve his greatest successes, and the iconic jersey is still often seen in the cycling world today. From retro shirts to coffee mugs, Molteni is still everywhere. Merckx also won that year from start to finish. He claimed victories in races such as Paris-Nice, Milan-Sanremo, and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, and he won the Tour after Luis Ocaña, his main challenger, had fallen.
Nevertheless, the Cannibal's hunger was not satisfied. It had been since 1967 that he had won the World Championships, and as the best rider in the world, he wanted to once again flaunt the rainbow jersey. Moreover, he felt that his Tour de France victory was not properly appreciated. Many followers mainly pointed to Ocaña's fall. When he took home the yellow jersey, his mind was already on the World Championships. The hilly course suited him perfectly.
According to tradition, Merckx trained like a man possessed near the Italian Abetone. On the Wednesday before the World Championships, he cycled to Monza, a journey of 300 kilometers. His preparation was not yet complete. On Thursday, Merckx rode over the hills from the Tour of Lombardy. On the Madonna del Ghisallo, he felt that everything was in order. His compatriots were already told on Saturday evening that the next day would be his.
With Roger Swerts, Merckx had a watchdog in an early breakaway attempt. Four laps from the end, it was the Cannibal's turn. He pushed on the Torrazza di Novazzano, and only Felice Gimondi, Giancarlo Polidori, Cyrille Guimard, Leif Mortensen, and Georges Pintens could still follow. The world champion was in the lead.
In the penultimate lap, Pintens did one last service for his team leader, who then launched his attack. Gimondi could still follow but knew what time it was. In the sprint, he had no chance. Merckx won with a few meters ahead in a true sea of people. 60,000 supporters stood on the course that day. They could only acknowledge that the best had won. It was the crowning glory of an amazing season in which Merckx won 54 times out of 120 races.
Mendrisio was an important world title for Merckx, who never seemed to have enough and wanted to win everywhere. Around that time, his nickname also emerged. The unprecedented explosiveness that day was incorporated into our Mendrisio bike. It is made for long rides, just like Merckx's Wednesday training session towards the World Championships.