The 8th Mapei Sport Research Centre conference was held on 26th May at the Malpensa Fiere Conference Centre in Busto Arsizio (Northern Italy). The event was extremely well attended and featured high-level scientific talks of the and guests of international standing. After the Director of Mapei Sport Research Centre, Claudio Pecci, Mapei Group’s Operational Marketing and Communication Director, Adriana Spazzoli, and the President of the Varese Chamber of Commerce, Fabio Lunghi, officially welcomed everybody to the conference, leading coaches, doctors and athletes from the world of top-flight sport discussed the subject of “Training and performance: an international perspective”.

As well as over 300 students and sports technicians, the event was also attended by politicians, such as the member of the European Parliament Lara Comi, business people of the calibre like Ernesto Colnago, and athletes who have worn Mapei’s glorious team colours, such as Daniele Nardello and Dario Nicoletti.
The large audience got the chance to listen to the views of sports experts on a range of subjects. Alan McCall from Scotland, a consultant to Arsenal Football Club in London, talked about injury prevention in football, Andrea Azzalin, Head of sport science and strength conditioning at Nantes Football Club, who for years was a member of the technical staff of Claudio Ranieri, discussed planning and monitoring training in various European leagues, Matteo Azzolini, a sports technician at Mapei Sports Research Centre, looked at the relationships between pedal asymmetries in cycling and strength asymmetry, and the Australian Nathan Townsend from Aspetar Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Hospital in Doha (Qatar) analysed the application of “work-balance modelling” for monitoring and training loads prescription in cycling.

After a speech by the member of the European Parliament Lara Comi, who, after announcing that the European Union is allocating 80 billion Euros for research and innovation, pointed out that “a centre of excellence in the field of scientific research applied to sport like Mapei Sport has all the necessary requisites for being awarded European funds”, the audience was told all the details about the “Aldo Sassi” research fellowships by Amilcare Collina from Mapei and Paola Vago from Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan.

Launched by Mapei – in the field of “exercise physiology/motor sciences”- in partnership with the Varese Chamber of Commerce, the research project focuses on “Relationship between training loads and physical performance in soccer”. The methodological guidelines underscoring it were carefully outlined by Andrea Bosio, Head of Mapei Sport’s scientific research department. The grant worth 10,000 Euros, named after the professor who led the Mapei Sport centre from 1996-2010, will be awarded to a recent graduate in sport sciences, whose curriculum and interview are judged to be the most suitable for carrying out the research project in accordance with the guidelines set in the competition announcement available at

The high standard of winners of this grant was illustrated by the talk given by Luca Cattaneo, winner of the sixth “Aldo Sassi” research fellowship organised last year by Mapei in partnership with Giuseppina Mai Foundation. His research work into the “Acute effect of training with blood flow restriction in soccer and cycling” captivated the audience. For the time being this training method is only used for specifically increasing strength, i.e. for weightlifting sessions in a gym or rehabilitation after an injury. The study has attempted to assess the possibility of reducing training loads with less risk of overload. The research is certainly a step forward towards assessing how this approach can be safely used by cyclists. In the case of cycling, it is vital to understand whether the method could be incorporated with other methods in a carefully-structured training plan. The conference drew to a close with a roundtable on the subject of “Training methods, traditions and cultures are different in every country: which is the winning model?” that was also attended by the CEO of the Mapei Group, Giorgio Squinzi, together with leading sportspeople who make use of Mapei Sport’s services.

They included the great cycling champion, Alberto Contador, one of only six riders in history to win all three grand cycling tours, the Giro d’Italia, Tour of France and Vuelta a España (the number rose to 7 the day after the conference following Chris Froome’s victory in the Giro d’Italy); Ivan Basso, who won the Giro d’Italia in 2006 and 2010; the captain of Sassuolo, Francesco Magnanelli, who led the team in its incredible rise from the Italian C2 to the Serie A, even qualifying for the Europa League in 2016; the head coach of Pallacanestro Reggiana basketball team for the last eight years, Massimiliano Menetti, who, after some wonderful achievements with his team on a national level, managed to reach the prestigious semi-final of the EuroCup this season; the promising young cyclist, Matteo Moschetti, one of the season’s most successful riders representing Polartec Kometa who will be competing at the very highest level next season wearing Trek Segafredo’s colours and the Head of the Human Performance Lab at Mapei Sport, Ermanno Rampinini, who is consultant for high-level Italian and European soccer teams, basketball teams and national alpine skiing teams.

Everybody taking part in the roundtable agreed on one thing: that you have to work hard using cutting-edge scientific training methods to achieve the very best results. Methods like those studied on a day-to-day basis and successfully implemented by the Mapei Sport Research Centre. But all that is not enough unless you also have those underlying human qualities that allow an athlete to keep on wanting to improve in their own sport and every other aspect of life. When questioned by the sports journalist Marina Presello, who chaired the roundtable, Giorgio Squinzi stated that “Italian sport is at the very cutting edge.” He was referring to both football and cycling: “Italian football managers have won everything all over Europe and in cycling, too, they have developed a school of thought that began here in Italy”. “And – so Giorgio Squinzi went on to say there are athletes like, for example, Contador and Basso, who had unbelievable qualities and were able to achieve even greater results drawing on all this expertise”. “This ‘Italian’ perspective is vitally important and has set the benchmark for so many sports: we need to make this very clear”, so Mapei’s head concluded to a loud round of applause.