Christmas crackers at Colnago: Ernesto's elves working at fever pitch

'Twas a few weeks before Christmas in Cambiago and the wrenches were all busy building bikes over at...

Tech feature - December 17, 2005

'Twas a few weeks before Christmas in Cambiago and the wrenches were all busy building bikes over at Colnago...

Paolino and Franco and Yuri too, were cranking out the shiny new bikes fast as could be, so that Santa Ernesto could make sure there was a bella new bici under everyone's tree.

With apologies to Clement Moore and all duff doggerel aside, when Cyclingnews recently visited Ernesto Colnago at his headquarters in Cambiago, Italy, the place was even more of a beehive of activity than Santa's workshop.

Besides the warehouse and production facility behind Colnago's main offices nearing completion, Ernesto's elves were busy checking, assembling and shipping those all-important pre-Christmas bikes for Colnago appassionati worldwide. Over here, a special project like a special limited series of Colnago C50 bikes for Mapei Christmas presents, painted up with the cubetti paint scheme made famous by the legendary Mapei team. And over there, Erik Zabel's new Milram team bike ready to rock.

Ernesto's younger brother Paolino Colnago has run the workshop over at Colnago HQ and Paolino told Cyclingnews that he and his two expert wrenches Franco and Yuri have been really busy this season, preparing plenty of 2006 team bikes for Rabobank, Landbouwkrediet, Continental circuit champs Panaria and Colnago's new team for next season, Milram.

"Petacchi was here last month to pick up his first bike, a C50. And Zabel's new Cristallo is over there," Paolino told us as we gawked at the elegant new wheel in Milram's distinctive blue and black colors. While Petacchi has a Jet motif on his Milram bike, Zabel has chosen a bald eagle for his own distinctive look on his Cristallo frame.

Back in the corner of Colnago's workshop, Yuri the Smilin' Ukranian was busy getting Landbouwkrediet-Colnago's new Cristallo frames ready for 2006. Always calm and happy despite the situation, Yuri worked as Landbouwkrediet team mechanic for years until Colnago brought his experienced hands in-house at the beginning of 2005.

The Belgian Landbouwkrediet squad will have a new look paint scheme with red, white and yellow accents that fade to black carbon on the swoopy rear triangle of the Cristallo frame set. Tucked in the other corner of Colnago HQ were a peck of special Colnago kids' bikes, ready to be tucked under the tree on Christmas morn for an aspiring Petacchi or Arndt. With their 24" wheels, lightweight aluminum frame and Campy Ergopower levers just like Dad and Mom's Colnago, Billy and Susie can now have their own real nine-speed racer!

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