By Tim Maloney, European Editor
Cyclingnews stopped by Cambiago, just east of Milano, at Colnago Ernesto & C.'s world HQ to say hello and wish Colnago a Happy Birthday, which he celebrates every February 9. We also congratulated Ernesto himself for some recent victories on his bikes at the World Cyclocross championship, Trofeo Mallorca and even the Australian National TT championships.
At 73 years young, the passion for racing burns bright for Ernesto Colnago. Even though he's seen it all in cycling at least twice, Colnago still closely follows every nuance of road racing. "You know we are sponsoring seven teams this year?" exclaimed Colnago "That's a record for us. We have two ProTour teams this year; of course we are with Rabobank again and will be at least through 2008. They have a great program. Sven Nys is a real 'corridore' (racer; one of Ernesto's highest compliments)...he just won (the Cyclo-cross World Championships) on a special lightweight C50 we made for him. And (World Champion) Freire has already won two races!"
Colnago told us about the two Italian teams he is sponsoring this year. "We have another ProTour team Domina Vacanze and we expect a lot out of this team; it's run by one of the best in the business, Gianluigi Stanga. We are also sponsoring Panaria...did you see that their Australian sprinter Brown just won five stages in Malaysia? Fantastic!" Colnago will also sponsor Continental Pro teams Navigators Insurance from the US, Action from Poland and Shimano MC, a Dutch/Japanese collaboration as well as top woman's squad Team S.A.T.S. from Denmark, and top Italian amateur team Vellutex and Italian men's and women's MTB squads.
"It's a big commitment," frowned a seemingly worried Colnago, who then burst into a smile as he said "But I still want to win!" Then Colnago suddenly reached behind his desk and pulled out a sweet C50 HP World Championship replica frame. "We just finished this frame with the new colours like Freire's bike and now we'll put out a limited edition of 250 pieces," explained Ernesto, who is undoubtedly hoping for yet another Colnago win on his 74th birthday Wednesday. Buon Compleanno Ernesto!