When approached by Rouleur magazine to work on a Mapei cover, I immediately thought about their famous cubetti jersey.
Being an amateur cyclist and Italian, I was of course familiar with the Mapei cycling team of the ‘90s.
When I was a kid, back in the ‘70s, I loved watching bike races on TV – iconic cyclists such as Merckx, Gimondi, Baronchelli, Boifava and Panizza – and also famous teams you immediately recognise by their jerseys: Salvarani (light blue), Scic (white and black) and Molteni (orange brown and black).
My father took me to see live Felice Gimondi’s arrival in Milan, when he won the 1976 Giro d’Italia. That was the first time I was able to see those jerseys in full colour and not in black and white as on the TV screen!
I started working on sketches sorting different ideas, but all of them focusing on the cubetti shirt. Among these sketches, I made drawings of some of the most representative racers of the Mapei team (Ballerini, Tonkov, Museeuw, Bettini and Tafi) with their team manager Patrick Lefevere in the centre, and of course all wearing the cubetti jersey.
Then at the end of the sketching stage, I just focused on the jersey itself. I imagined the cubetti jersey against a gold leaf background with rays almost as a sacred image.
Then a big oversize jersey dominating a central Italian landscape, with hills and crops, and a road going through it taking you up to the mountains.
Once the drawing stage was completed and the final idea for the cover approved, I started to work on the final illustration artwork.
I work on a gesso-prepared board and start painting on top of the shaded drawing, using oil paints and very fine brushes.
When completed, I photograph the painting, to make a digital file that is sent to the client for publication.