By Lesley Goddin
RICHMOND, Va., — For decades, MAPEI has been an avid sponsor of the arts and cycling sports. Dr. Giorgio Squinzi, owner of MAPEI, has a passion for the cycling as both a participant and supporter. Because of his enthusiasm, over the years MAPEI has sponsored the Italian cycling team and built the MAPEI Sport and Research Center in Olgiate, Italy — a state-of-the-art training and performance center for cyclists. MAPEI also supports the UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) training center, and has been a main event partner of the UCI Road World Championships. In the words of Luigi Di Geso, the reason MAPEI supports both the arts and sports is “to give back to the community.”
That’s why I had the opportunity to attend the 2015 World Championship of Cycling races in Richmond, Va., the last weekend in September. This veritable Olympics of cycling draws competitors from such races as the Tour de France, and it was the first time the event has been held in the U.S. in 30 years. One thousand cycling champs from 75 countries competed in an event that wound throughout the streets of Richmond and attracted crowds of 450,000 spectators.
MAPEI sponsored a hospitality tent for 100 customers and members of the press for the event only 100 meters in front of the start/finish line.Most guest were avid cyclists themselves or passionate enthusiasts.For instance, Bob Herman of NTCA Five Star Contractor Superior Tile & Stone — with offices in Las Vegas, Nev., and a new location in Salt Lake City, Utah — recently competedin LoToJa, the 200-mile cycling event from Logan, Utah to Jackson, Wyoming. Al Grazzini, of NTCA’s newest Five Star Contractor Grazzini Brothers of Eagan, Minn., is an enthusiast who enjoys cycling when he can. Mike Nichols of Southeastern Tile Connection, Inc., in Wilmington, N.C., is a triathlon competitor.
Our group cheered and rang colorful cowbells — the traditional noisemaker of cycling — to encourage the cyclists in the 80.5 mile (129.6 km) Men’s Junior Road Circuit race and the Women’s Elite Road Circuit on Saturday, and the 161-mile (259.2 km) Men’s Elite races on Sunday.
The Saturday races were conducted on a 10-mile course that included eight laps for both the junior men and the women. The day was exceptionally challenging due to wind and rain — especially on the steep Libby Hill section of the course, made even more treacherous by its cobblestone path. Winners in the Men’s Junior race were Felix Gall from Austria in 3:11:09, followed by Clement Betouigt-Suire of France, and the Netherlands’ Rasmus Pederson for the bronze. In the Women’s challenge, Great Britain cyclistElizabeth Armitstead zoomed forward from the peloton in the home stretch to claim the gold and the prized UCI rainbow shirt in 3:23:56, followed by Anna Van Der Breggen from the Netherlands and Megan Guamier of the USA. In the punishing, six-hour Men’s Elite Road Circuit on Sunday, 192 cyclists gave it everything they had for over 15 laps. Richmond-born USA cyclist Ben King made a good showing and led in several laps, before Peter Sagan of Slovakia crossed the line as winner in 6:14:37, followed by Australia’s Michael Matthews and Lithuania’s Ramunas Navardauskas.
During the races, the MAPEI party had the opportunity to visit and monitor the race on a bank of screens in the tent, then rush to the rails to cheer cyclists on in person as they whizzed past the grandstand. Activities for guests included a guided tour of the broadcast booths and “bikecams” — motorcycles fitted with radio frequency transmitters to transmit images of the cyclists from road level — and ride in a pace car ahead of the racers to see the course and get a sense of the tremendous speed the cyclists had to maintain. It was a spirited time of fun and camaraderie which allowed relaxed conversation with industry personnel I only see in fleeting moments during manic events such as Coverings and Surfaces.
On a personal note, I was able to connect with a bit of family history while in Richmond.I’ve long known that the James river region was home to many Goddin ancestors dating back to the 1700s. In fact, Captain John Goddin purchased a tavern on Brook Avenue in 1835 and operated it for 20 years in Richmond. (In Colonial Williamsburg, the Goddins have a presence with the Isham Goddin Shop on Waller Street next to the Christiana Campbell tavern. Clearly my family has a history of passionate eating and drinking!). Among the historic buildings here is the Goddin-Taylor house on Clay Street in Jackson Ward, built in 1820 and restored in 1978. Through the kind and expert navigation through the streets of Richmond of MAPEI’s Diane Choate, I was able to locate Goddin Street and nab a photograph with my namesake street sign.
The entire weekend excursion was a reflection of both the passion and enthusiasm that MAPEI puts into all its endeavors, and the graciousness with which it treats its customers, even as it gives back to communities around the world by its support of cycling and the arts.