With so many tales of broken promises, teams folding and disillusioned young men heading home to Blighty from Europe, it’s good to tell a story where it all comes together and there’s a podium involved. Paul Double has been on our radar for a while, first as a ‘Zappi Man,’ a CTT Hill Climb medallist, riding for one of Italy’s top u23 teams – the mighty Colpack Ballan – then last year back as a ‘Zappi Man.’
You may have read our recent interview with Senor Flavio Zappi here on VeloVeritas? This season the Zappi Racing Team will have strong Scottish representation with Messrs. Hamish Strachan and Matthias Barnett quitting Bonnie but chilly Scotland and the brooding, icy waters of the North Sea for La Bella Italia and the more benign waters of the Adriatico.
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.
This season saw Ethan Hayter sign with Ineos and the podium came early with second in the non-too-flat Memorial Pantani and that was despite a crash in the 1.Pro Milano-Torino his second race, the first being the Gran Trittico Lombardo. Then came ‘lockdown’ and his first race back was the European Championships in Plouay, won by Giacomo Nizzolo; Hayter finished a crash-blighted 98th but next up was the Pantani and the podium...
‘Lockdown’ does have benefits. The big advantage for me is that I have time to catch up with riders who it’s long overdue I should speak to. One such rider is Australia’s Micheal Wilson, a winner of Grand Tour stages and Italian races of quality. Micheal was at home in Tasmania with a glass of his own Pinot Grigio to hand – Micheal is still involved in wine production – when I called and asked him to stroll down memory lane with me...
Paul Double raced with his Italian Colpack team, one of Italy’s strongest continental teams, and yet here he was on Dartmoor securing the silver medal in the British Hill Climb Championship. We heard the story...
Hard to believe but it's 10 years ago that we popped over to Italy to cover Milan - Sanremo. The day before the race we visited Ciclismo Masi in his workshop under the famous Vorelli Velodrome banking, we spoke to Lance Armstrong at his press conference, ate amazing pizza. Then on race day-morning we watched with interest as Dave Brailsford met Ernesto Colnago for a coffee and a chat about supplying equipment to his fledgling new team, Sky Pro Cycling and chatted to riders including eventual winner Mark Cavendish at the buses...
If you’re a VeloVeritas regular then you’ll have seen our interview with Flavio Zappi, the man who transforms promising U23 riders into World Tour performers. Will Scot, Callum Johnston be pulling on a QuickStep jersey in a year or three?
‘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.
Italy’s Bassano-Monte Grappa U23 Classic has been around since 1930 and lists Italian Legend, Gino Bartali as a winner in 1934; with Leonardo Piepoli, Giro winners Ivan Gotti, Gilberto Simoni and Damiano Cunego, not to mention Fabio Aru all on the more recent role of honour. It’s a beast of race, flat then rearing up the feared Monte Grappa climb – of Giro fame - to finish at over 1700 metres.
A hard race ? When the World and Olympic road race champion is blown out the back, his eyes wide, shoulders rocking, sweat dripping from him, stuggling up a climb on the inside ring, when only minutes ago he was blasting it on the 53 - that's a hard race. Milan - San Remo has to be seen to be believed: seven hours, with all the major obstacles in the second half. The new climb at La Manie is brutal and might just have contributed to the "pure" sprinters failure in San Remo.
The 99th edition of Milan - SanRemo 2008 is the first of the five "monuments" of the professional year, and it's true to say that the Italian race is one of the the highlights of every sprinter's season. The race is one of the legends in cycling, not really because of it's terrain, but rather for it's incredible history, and for the fact that it is the longest classic on the modern day calendar.
It was ironic that Chris Anker Sørensen’s life should end doing what he had become known for after his career as a professional cyclist was over – preparing meticulously for his role as a TV race commentator, out riding the parcours of Sunday’s World Individual Time Trial Championship in Flanders.
We liked our jaunt to the Tour of the Campsies last year and feel at home among the rolling countryside and green hills there so we headed west, first of all paying our respects to the Robert Millar mural at the foot of the Crow Road; when you watch Roglič take the Lagos di Covadonga stage in the Vuelta it’s difficult to imagine the wee fella from Glasgow winning that stage – but win it he did.
We had a look around Hawick as the 2021 Tour of Britain race carnival hit town, we caught up with friends then headed out on the course, hiding from the wind on Wanside Rig to see the peloton as it headed towards Gifford...
With victories already this season in various time trial distances ranging from 25 to 100 miles (with a two mile hill climb win too), Iain Macleod (Kelpie Racing) added the Scottish Cycling Olympic Time Trial 2021 title to his growing palmarès.
The Ribble ‘Ultra Aero’ is a beautiful piece of machinery and in the manner of the best British speed machines – Aston Martin, Jaguar, Lotus, Norton – pulls off that trick of looking very quick even when it’s standing still. We caught up with Ribble CEO, Andy Smallwood and ex-pro and DS, Jamie Burrow, Ribble’s head of product development; here’s what they had to say.
Congratulations are in order as Christina Mackenzie became the fastest-ever woman to traverse the largest of the British Isles from it’s south western to north eastern tips. Christina, originally from the Isle of Lewis but now Stirling-based took time to speak to VeloVeritas a day or two after her epic ride.
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