01.04.2019 – 15:01
Martini Racing Ciclismo: Tom Boonen Appointed as Road Captain
Tom Boonen is back in the peloton, albeit a so-called "horecapeloton." Martini Racing Ciclismo will be made up of participants from the HOtel, REstaurant and CAtering sector. Former world champion, three times winner of the Ronde Van Vlaanderen and four times winner of the Paris-Roubaix classic, Boonen has now taken on the role of Road Captain in support of a project aiming to get workers in the hospitality sector onto their racing bikes and so encourage them to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Last year Martini Racing celebrated their 50th anniversary. Perhaps best known from the rally and F1 circuits, the parent company Martini also has deep roots in cycle racing: in fact, they were at the birth of sports sponsorship. As early as 1914, the then Martini & Rossi financed the Grande Corsa Ciclistica Nazionale Coppa, and in 1936, the brand sponsored the Giro. Their name would turn up again later along the routes of the Spring Classics and the Tour de France, where the Martini Challenge for many years served as a team classification event.
Following on from their recent involvement in F1 with Williams-Martini, the vermouth brand is now focussing once again on cycle racing. Their aim with Martini Racing Ciclismo is to encourage workers in the hospitality sector to maintain a balanced lifestyle. Weekends are the busiest time for most workers in hospitality, and the cycle races are therefore mainly scheduled to take place on Mondays, on the road in the spring and summer and with cyclocross and track events in the autumn. A veritable winter training camp was organised in Calp, Spain last January, with around 30 cyclists taking part.
The rides are generally led by professionals and former professionals like Zdenek Stybar, Sven Nys, Iljo Keisse, Ludo Dierckxens, Puck Moonen and Tom Boonen. The team eventually settled on Tom Boonen as the ideal pacemaker, leading to the signing of a two-year agreement which sees Boonen appointed as road captain for the Martini Racing Ciclismo programme in Belgium.
The idea of bringing workers in the hospitality sector together through the medium of cycling has proved so successful that similar projects have now been launched in several other countries. Martini Racing Ciclismo chapters have sprung up in Spain, Italy and the UK, and they're soon to be joined by teams from the Netherlands, Denmark, the US and China.
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