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Flavio Zappi plays down his own career on the bike but in a time and place where it was hard to get a pro contract and then sometimes even harder to achieve contract renewal after one season, if the results weren’t there or your face didn’t fit, he rode numerous seasons at the highest levels of Italian cycle sport.
Having moved from London in 2016 to Casale Volpe, a small, secluded cycling-orientated B&B in Le Marche region of Central Italy, a gloriously hot July day last summer gave VeloVeritas reader Mike Curtis the chance to meet up and ride, relax and chat over lunch with local ex-pro and gregario di lusso Andrea Tonti.
In these times devoid of racing it’s that much harder to produce content so we look back at work we’ve done in the past for inspiration. A decade ago I was fortunate to get an introduction from professional - and now DS with EF – Charly Wegelius, to the late, great, Aldo Sassi one of the most respected coaches of his generation.
The Giro, the final Stage 21 into Torino, Trek’s Giacomo Nizzolo avoids the late crash and takes the stage – the judges think differently though and declasse him to 12th with German, Niklas Arndt given the victory. Dave and I were ‘barrier hanging’ in the finish straight and it looked like a sound win to us – but those UCI guys...
I have been hard on the Filippo Ganna, putting in print that perhaps he would never rank among the all-time gallacticos of pursuiting, but the big Italian is proving me wrong so I thought I’d go back and look at the man’s career from day one to where he is now; that’s one of the best chrono men and the best pursuit rider on the planet.
A few weeks ago I posted on social media a picture of Davide Rebellin in his new Sovac-Natura4ever team strip for 2018; his 27th season as a professional. I commented that he was a ‘remarkable man.’ Immediately I was informed that I was, ‘glorifying a doper.’ When I responded by asking how he was any different to the pundits, TV commentators, self-styled fashion gurus and authors who have all fallen foul of the testers but are now accepted by the cycling community - no one could tell me. Former ‘cross star Barry Davies suggested that I organise an interview with the Italian; ‘good idea,’ I thought to myself.
‘You need to talk that Flavio Zappi boy, his lads are racing all over Europe and getting good results!’ As often happens with VeloVeritas it’s our spiritual guide and fiercest critic, Viktor who gives us inspiration on who we should be speaking to. But there’s also the aspect that QuickStep new recruit James Knox, who we interviewed earlier in the year was a ‘Zappi Man’ so yes, times we had a word with Sen. Zappi.
Michele Scarponi took fourth on GC at the Tour of the Alps this week and it was a shock to all when word came of his being fatally struck by an Iveco van on an early morning training ride just one kilometre from his home in Filottrano. To Michele Scarponi’s wife, Anna and twin boys Giacomo and Tomamaso, his extended family, friends, fans and team mates we extend our deepest sympathies. Rest in peace, Michele we’re going to miss you.
With Xmas rapidly approaching I was recently emailed to ask if I’d like to receive a Hinault, Kuiper, Lemond or Coppi fine bone china mug as a gift. They were all really nice but there’s something magical about that gorgeous Bianchi ‘celeste’ colour, so that’s what I’ll be drinking my Xmas coffee from – maybe with a shot of grappa in there.
It was way back in 1999 when Marco Pinotti signed his first pro contract, with Lampre Daikin. The Italian team is still with us – and so is the time trial specialist from Bergamo. To use the clichéd comparison with wine, the 37 year-old gets better as every season passes.
"Entrepreneurs on the Saddle" is the first of several excerpts from my book "The Cycling Professor", to give you a flavour of the topics I discuss in it. Thanks to the guys at VeloVeritas for the opportunity to do this.
Italian professional Marco Pinotti's new book, "The Cycling Professor" isn't so much a classic biography as a collection of anecdotes and experiences.