During the early-to-mid-1990s, Motorola was the major English-speaking team taking on the more traditional Belgian, Italian and French set-ups, and the US team was particularly strong in the Classics. This Eddy Merckx Corsa Extra frame, in Motorola colours, is sure to appeal to aficionados of the period.
Some of the best-known riders on the Motorola squad of the 1990s included Phil Anderson, Sean Yates, Andy Hampsten and Alvaro Mejia. A certain Lance Armstrong was also on the team for four-and-a-half seasons, from turning pro midway through 1992 until the end of the 1996 season, when he was diagnosed with testicular cancer.
His last race for Motorola was the Telekom Grand Prix two-up time trial, alongside Yates, in September, with the pair finishing ninth; Armstrong's cancer diagnosis came the following month.
After winning the World Championships road race in 1993, Armstrong wore the rainbow jersey emblazoned with the Motorola logo during the 1994 season. And 1994 is around the year – perhaps a little earlier – that we'd peg this steel Eddy Merckx Corsa Extra frame as being from, with no information on its age offered by the seller.
Motorola, as a sponsor, was a lucky heir of the 7-Eleven squad – the American power-house squad that had won the Giro d'Italia with Hampsten in 1988 and stages of the 1986 and 1987 Tour de France thanks to Davis Phinney, with Jeff Pierce and Dag Otto Lauritzen also winning stages at the 1987 Tour.
Like 7-Eleven before it, Motorola was managed by Jim Ochowicz, who remains in the sport at the helm of WorldTour squad CCC Team – although he may well be looking for a new main sponsor for 2021 thanks to the coronavirus pandemic's impact on shoe retailer CCC. But no one's had more experience in finding replacement sponsors than Ochowicz.
The Columbus SLX tubing used here is a great example of a high-quality steel, and a frame like this would have been one of the last in the pro peloton before riders made the switch to aluminium, titanium and carbon-fibre-tubed machines in earnest.
Many Motorola riders plumped for the top-of-the-range Eddy Merckx MX Leader frameset in the early 1990s – built with Columbus MXL tubing – but some apparently preferred the more robust SLX.
For the 1995 and 1996 seasons – and the latter was to be their last – Motorola raced on frames by the Brazilian brand Caloi, although they were still made by Eddy Merckx. By that point, a number of riders were apparently on titanium frames, badged as an Eddy Merckx or a Caloi, but allegedly built by US brand Litespeed.
This Corsa Extra frame's on the larger side by virtue of its 56cm seat tube – so more for Sean Yates types than Alvaro Mejias – but it appears to still be in great condition, and has just a few paint chips and scrapes, as pointed out and photographed by the Luxembourg-based seller, who's asking £545 (US$665) for this little slice of cycling history.
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