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A Chat With: Maurizio Bellin

A Chat With: Maurizio Bellin

We started with a blank sheet of paper and a voiceover. Maurizio, as a bike enthusiast told us about his first connection with cycling. A love cultivated since childhood. As an ” experienced” manager, he shared with us his vision of this particular market. As a product man, he revealed to us some background on the evolution of the #bike, the Pinarello Crossista F that took Tom Pidcock to the rainbow jersey in cyclocross.


Bike-room: Welcome to Bike-room, introduce yourself and give yourself three adjectives that contradict you.

My name is Maurizio Bellin, I work for Cicli Pinarello as Chief Of Operations, and three adjectives that define me….wow we start immediately strong, I was not prepared. So: determined, resourceful, and irreverent.

Bike-room: we really like these answers. First of all, thank you for coming and for accepting the invitation. Starting from these three (outstanding) adjectives we can go a little bit to scan your “path” as a human and as a cyclist. So the question is: when was your first contact with cycling, with the bicycle itself, and when did you realize that the bike would be your life?

This is a special anecdote that is really close to my heart. Indeed, I thank you for asking because you make my mind go back so many years. I remember that I was six years old, and with my BMX bike, I used to play shots. I was cycling on the cemetery driveway in my hometown, together with my grandmother, sitting on the side of the road. Suddenly the sports director of a local cycling team came alongside me and said, “But, why are you here all alone doing sprints, come with us.” They gave me a bicycle and I immediately started racing. I remember that soon came the first victories including (and I say this with extreme pride) winning the Lombardy Minicross champion jersey. Because at that time, you started from Minicross as a child. From that moment, until the age of 24, I continued to ride, following the whole line of the competitive career.

Bike-room: from this first answer immediately emerges you are determined, as you perfectly defined yourself. Attributes that led to your landing in the pros. Before talking about your career as a manager in the bike industry, we would like instead to talk about your irreverent side, the “smoky” one (as some sources tell us that we cannot reveal). Do you remember an anecdote or would you like to share with us a particular episode from your Pro career that best illustrates this side of you? Beyond the victories and competitiveness.

Oh gosh, for an anecdote maybe we should spend an entire episode of the series! I don’t have a particular anecdote, however, I remember well the words of one of the team presidents when I was 18 years old. He told us, “guys remember, great seriousness and great commitment. But don’t forget that you have an age that will never come back.” Here, maybe I even took this advice a little too seriously…(Maurizio laughs).

Bike-room: Now, let’s talk about your time in the pro cycling. What was it like and when did you decide, and most importantly, did you realize it was the right time to hang up your bike? And when did you understand that bike would always be the center of your personal and professional life?

So I turned Pro at 22, which was the right age for the era I was racing. Today at 22 they win the Tour de France, but that’s another story. With the transition to professionalism, I immediately understood how commitment sacrifice dedication was essential to be competitive. For my part, I made it to the pros definitely thanks more to my talent than the hard work dose. I have to admit that in later years I came to this realization and admitted it to myself. Clearly, the great amount of work I had to put in meant that certainly the overall assessment of my career was “compromised.” So having reached my childhood dream, (in the first grade my desk mate wanted to be an astronaut, the other I think a formula driver … and I wanted to run the Milano Sanremo) which was to race the Milano Sanremo I felt in some respects, arrived at the end of a path. It was time to start a “new journey” where talent would not be enough, I decided that “the world of work was ready for me.”

Bike-room: you offer us certainly interesting food for thought. The path you have taken is not unusual within the bike industry. But in your specific case, it is an example of how the perseverance you mentioned, combined with the talent also evident in management, allowed you to land at Pinarello. Can you describe the climb that led you to a key role in one of the world’s leading bicycle companies?

Before I answer, I want to take up the first part of this question. Because after I made the decision to stop racing, I read a lot and found what are aspects that I have matured in professional sports, so at the highest level, very consistent also in the business world and work in general. The great determination, knowing how to move with teamwork, and above all the planning to achieve the goal. This common thread from sports I have applied in the world of work has allowed me as mentioned, yes to grow a lot even in an almost unexpected way.  Because these values that I have carried within me since the age of six when I started, emerged naturally and automatically as if they were imprinted in my DNA. I did not immediately realize how these values, then went on to influence in a clear way, my whole path. A path that saw me for 13 years in FSA Europe (a company to which I will be forever grateful) first as a salesman, then as a commercial director, and finally as general manager. The same values that then allowed me to land in Pinarello. I have now been working in Pinarello for two years in a role dedicated to product, its development, and industrialization. So yes, from that cemetery road with the BMX, I have come a little way, and always thanks to the bicycle.

Bike-room: now instead of a specific question. Browsing around the web, we found a beautiful picture on your Instagram profile where there’s a whiteboard. Which then is kind of that whiteboard that is symbolic of your journey. The photo features Tom Pidcock, the world cyclocross champion. Below this shot is a beautiful caption that states ” from a white sheet to the rainbow jersey.” Here in our opinion this photo and its description are a little bit streamlines what we have been talking about. The question is also a bit provocative. Didn’t you feel towards Tom the guide who not only developed the product but also enabled that fusion of talent, passion, and dedication that then led him to the world championship victory?

First of all, I would like to point out that I don’t work alone but I have an R&D team of five engineers who are fundamental for me and obviously for then what concerns the product, but above all, we are led by Fausto Pinarello.  So together with them, I felt more like, a chef with his customer who was specifically asking for ingredients that he wanted a dish, with requirements for him. We succeeded because we really started from a blank sheet of paper, from his direct feedback. Let me open a parenthesis. At the time of the first meetings we didn’t know who his opponents were at the world championships but obviously his opponents besides the specialists, they are called Wout van Aert and Mathieu van der Poel and for Tom it was fundamental and it is fundamental to develop that phase of the race where he is clearly stronger than them, the running. In cyclocross races in fact there are segments, whether it’s for stairs, whether it’s for mud … where the guys load the bike in on the shoulder the bike and run. Here in these segments, Tom is much stronger than all his opponents and so he specifically asked us to think of a dedicated bike to develop this gift of his and then apply it to the market as well. Because clearly, all cyclocross specialists, from world champion Tom Pidcock to the amateur, to the enthusiast find themselves lifting the bike by loading it on their shoulders. From here on, the whole development process made the frame take on an anatomical bend in the horizontal tube because, in another parenthesis, the bike is lifted only on the right side because there is a crankset on the left side. So we studied the ergonomic shape of the horizontal tube such that lifting and leaning the whole bike was very comfortable. And it was great to see Tom triumph at the world championship and right on the staircase of the world championship course lift this bike and run. For me it wasn’t even touching the ground, you could see it floating. So tremendous satisfaction because really from the clean sheet we came to win the world championship, by the way in a very complex period.

Bike-room: in conclusion, clear synergies emerge between this approach and our vision. I am referring to a company with Pinarello, which speaks directly to an athlete. It’s a big company but one that really follows the specific need of athletes and consumers. We are talking about value so the technical and emotional value of a bicycle. Here, we at Bike-room want to preserve this emotional value, recondition bikes, and put them back on sale for enthusiasts around the world. What do you Maurizio think about this Bike-room formula?

The world in the last two years has changed. We all notice it by how we work and how we organize the world of work, our days. How we use the calendar more, how times are evolving, and how smart working has become a reality. Not just in some companies and some countries, I’m seeing an overall global evolution. Certainly Bike-room I place it within this evolution of the world. A new world, without forgetting the old one because it has brought us this far. From my point of view, I wish you all the best of luck because the challenge is definitely daunting however I strongly believe that as the world has changed surely the format of Bike-room should also be reflected in these evolutions.

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