In the Spirit of Coppi
Two iconic brand names, Bianchi and Ursus, together again.
Words: Chris Sidwells
Photos: Caroline Stewart and Cycling Legends
More than anyone else Fausto Coppi made the Bianchi bike brand famous, and he still does. But Coppi’s time was the 1940s and ‘50s, the Bianchi team is a lot older. It was founded in 1899, and from time to time the Milan based bicycle manufacturer’s name was joined on team jerseys by different co-sponsors.
The tyre company Pirelli appeared most often, but others included Mobylette, Campagnolo, Faema, Piaggio and Ursus. Now Ursus is co-sponsoring the UK based Bianchi Dama team, although it’s not the same Ursus that co-sponsored Fausto Coppi’s Bianchi team in 1949 and 1950.
Ursus is the Latin word for bear, and was the name a Polish engineering company chose when it set up in 1883. It started out manufacturing motors then moved on to trucks and military tractors. After the Second World War, Ursus focussed on the latter and with a view to selling tractors in Italy, Ursus co-sponsored the Bianchi team, which was led by Fausto Coppi.
Bianchi-Ursus raced in 1949 and 1950, with Fausto Coppi winning the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia, Milan-San Remo, the Italian national championships and Il Lombardia the first year, and Paris-Roubaix and La Fleche Wallonne in the second. Coppi’s brother Serse was equal first in the 1950 Paris-Roubaix, which is where our photo of them was taken.
The Ursus brand that is now involved with Bianchi Dama is an Italian engineering company established in 1967. It makes lightweight precision wheels for race bikes, and it is supplying them to the Bianchi Dama team.
Team manager David Walters says; “Such a respected Italian brand supplying the team’s wheels enables the riders to perform at their best regardless of conditions. It’s also a privilege to bring two historic cycling brand names back together.”