When Carrera Jeans manufacturers stopped sponsoring the famous Italian cycling team Carrera Jeans–Tassoni at the end of 1996, it was reported that manager Davide Boifava would be building a team around Marco Pantani with Mercatone Uno as the main sponsor. However Luciano Pezzi became the President of that new team, taking with him as directeur sportifs Giuseppe Martinelli, Davide Cassani and Alessandro Giannelli and ten of the riders from Carrera including Pantani. In this way a new team based in Italy was formed with Marco Pantani as the team leader and which rode Bianchi bikes. According to former cycling champion Felice Gimondi the team was built exclusively around Pantani with directeur sportif Martinelli refusing to sign a sprinter as this could have created other objectives of the team. According to Gimondi, in this way the team was conceived similarly to the way the Bianchi cycling team was conceived in the mid-1940s as a team built around Fausto Coppi. In the 1997 season, Pantani finished third overall at the 1997 Tour de France and won several stages including the stage to the Alpe d'Huez. The following year Pantani won the 1998 Giro d'Italia and then won the 1998 Tour de France - becoming only the seventh rider in history to achieve the Giro-Tour double. Pantani dedicated his win to the recently deceased General manager of Mercatone Uno Luciano Pezzi. After achieving this great success, the head of the branch of the Mercatone Uno supermarkets, Romano Cenni, said that the sponsor would remain in cycling as long as Pantani was still cycling. In the 1999 Giro d'Italia, Pantani dominated the race until he was suspended from the race due to a high haematocrit level. As a result, the entire Mercatone Uno team withdrew from the race. The following year the team won the 2000 Giro d'Italia with Stefano Garzelli to which he thanked Pantani for help. Although Garzelli had a contract that run until the end of the 2001 season, he left the team at the end of 2000. When Pantani abandoned the 2002 Giro d'Italia, there was immediate talk of Mercatone Uno stopping its sponsorship after the 2002 season as the team had not been invited to the 2001 and 2002 Tour de France. However the team continued during the 2003 season where Pantani rode to 14th overall in the 2003 Giro d'Italia. The team was disbanded at the end of 2003 due to the probable retirement of Pantani with several riders going to the South African team Barloworld.