History repeats in cycling, and there’s nothing unique about the Jumbo-Visma saga at the Vuelta. Herbie Sykes recalls a similarly complex situation at the 1970 Tour de France...

Italo Zilioli was supposed to have been the second coming. In the Autumn of 1963 he, a 21-year-old boy, had won four Italian semi-classics. He’d won them one after the other because, fundamentally, he’d been able to ride away whenever he felt like it. Following the Giro del Veneto (an absolute bastard of a race) the Corriere della Sera had been unequivocal: “Not since Coppi have we seen a rider drop everyone so spectacularly, 60 kilometres from the finish. Through all the hopes, dreams and let-downs, we’ve been waiting for a rider like this since Coppi…”  Vittorio Adorni, runner-up at the Giro and hitherto considered Italy’s classiest rider, was at a loss; “At the bottom of the climb to Teolo they said he had a minute on us. I told myself that he was dead, that we’d catch him before the summit. Only he wasn’t and we didn’t. I was dead, and so were all the others…”


He was tall and elegant, and on the bike he looked a million dollars. Of course they’d put him on the front pages, but that had been the last thing he’d wanted. Zilioli, you see, had fallen in love with cycling. The bike had been a way to get out of the city and out of himself, and cycle racing had been collateral to that. He’d started doing it because they’d asked him to, and because he’d assumed it would be fun. And the truth is it had been fun, at least the part of it which involved riding a bike. The problem was the stuff around it, all the things weren’t the countryside, the fresh air and the camaraderie. That stuff began to mutate into a straightjacket of intolerable pressure, of half-truths and outright lies. He was condemned to entertain imbeciles, to issue mindless platitudes to people he neither liked nor respected. Because he couldn’t get out of it he’d started to resent it, and then to despise it. It was the lot of the professional cyclist, but it was the antithesis of riding a bike.    

Six months on from Veneto he’d “failed” to unseat the great Jacques Anquetil at the Giro. He’d lost by 90 seconds, and they’d been absolutely merciless. Zilioli, they said, wasn’t the new Coppi after all. He’d let down the cycling “movement”, and at the conclusion in Milan the fans had whistled their opprobrium. 


The press concluded that he just didn’t have the gumption. He was too hesitant on the bike and too cerebral off it, and he’d do well to take a leaf out of Franco Bitossi’s book. The Tuscan had won four stages, and had “carried the fight” to Anquetil. That pretty much said it all, because Bitossi had procured those stages in a deal with Anquetil. Bitossi was a great rider, but he’d been riding for Jacques, not against him.  


From hero to zero in six months. Italo Zilioli had been 22-years-of-age. He’d been little more than a ragazzino, and yet they’d seen fit to pillory him. This was Jacques Anquetil, a four-time Tour de France winner. It was absurd. 


Most of what he read about himself was made up, and most of what he said was either misconstrued or reinterpreted. He started taking pains to keep his own counsel, because the less he offered the less they asked. The less he won the more they left him alone, and he became quite creative in that respect. He finished runner-up in three consecutive Giri, and spent not a single day in pink. He was Italy’s Raymond Poulidor, albeit with the Anquetil or the fanbase. He was scrupulously fair and highly intelligent, and amongst his peers he was widely respected. The press, however, depicted him as undemonstrative and unknowable, and they began to look elsewhere for their quotes. Zilioli being Zilioli, he didn’t mind that at all. Didn’t mind it one little bit. 


By 1970, days like Veneto had become but a memory. He still sparkled intermittently, and in full flight he was still thing of beauty to behold. He remained the most sublime descender on the planet, but he couldn’t win a sprint and Merckxism was a matter of irrefutable fact. Zilioli wasn’t so deluded as to believe that he – or anyone else for – could defeat Eddy at the Giro. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, and so he threw his lot in with Merckx at Faema. In Marino Vigna the team had a young, highly astute sports director. Whilst Merckx and his sentries bludgeoned the classics into submission, they’d lead a group of Italians at home and in Spain. They were Faema’s biggest markets, so there’d be mountainous stage races in Catalonia and Valencia. Winning down there wasn’t absolutely critical, but Zilioli was a man in need of a new start. Besides, Merckx was ready to attempt the Giro-Tour double, and an in-form Zilioli would be a valuable asset come May. 

Liberated from the Italian cycling tit-for-tat, Italo Zilioli became Italo Zilioli again. He was too strong for Poulidor and Luis Ocaña at Semana Catalana, and won stages at the Vuelta a Levante and Tirreno-Adriatico. At the Giro he won another, a beauty in the Apennines. More importantly, though, he rode splendidly as Merckx ran away with the maglia rosa. As their friendship solidified, Zilioli began, once more, to enjoy being a cyclist. Paradoxically in this, his first Giro as a helper, he was much the strongest of the Italians. For all sorts of reasons, he was much happier ploughing Eddy’s furrows than his own. He was by nature a giver, and helping Merckx to win was infinitely more gratifying than losing sprint finishes to Bitossi, Gianni Motta and Michele Dancelli. 


Merckx had learned Italian very well, but it didn’t alter the fact that he was more comfortable amongst his own. Zilioli was exceptional in just about every sense, however, and so it was that he – and he alone amongst Faema’s Italian contingent – made his way to Limoges for the 57th Tour de France. He did so in the company of Vigna, but when the racing started he’d be one and they, the Flemish, would be nine. 


Merckx won the prologue, but as stage two barrelled inland from La Rochelle, a breakaway group of four took a punt. Zilioli jumped across in the company of another Faema, Georges Vandenberghe, and in so doing they dragged across Walter Godefroot. He was a Paris-Roubaix winner, a green jersey contender and a lightning-fast finisher, and his presence was bound to provoke a reaction from the sprinter’s teams. However, Vigna persuaded Lomme Driessens, the senior Faema DS, to let them ride. Zilioli was the best placed amongst them on GC, so for Faema it represented a win-win scenario. With 160 rolling kilometres to travel, the odds on their making to the finish in Angers weren’t great. However in that case Merckx would likely retain the jersey anyway, and so he acquiesced. More or less. Zilioli was still a high-class rider, infinitely more than a bog-standard domestique. He’d been outstanding at the Giro, and it would be churlish to begrudge him a shot at a Tour de France stage win. He wouldn’t be best pleased if his own team joined in the chase, and it would compromise the dynamic within the team. That said, Merckx was, well… Merckx. It was one thing for Zilioli to win the stage, quite another to denude his captain of the yellow jersey.

By mid-stage Zilioli was virtual maillot jaune, but the chase had begun in earnest. Four teams set to, and soon enough the breakaway stalled. They started missing turns, then going out the back, and 10 kilometres from home the lead was little over a minute. At that point Zilioli put another gear on, and only Vandenbergh and Godefroot were strong enough to hang on. Soon enough Godefroot, too, gave best, and so then there were two. Or, more accurately, one-and-a-half. Vandenbergh had done a terrific ride, but he was stuffed…
Zilioli had begun the day 35 seconds down on GC. Here there’d be a 20 second bonus for the stage win, so he’d need find 15 for the jackpot. When it was clear the stage would be his (some say before it), Faema joined in the “chase”, but too late for Merckx to retain the jersey. Zilioli got home with four seconds to spare and, fleetingly at least, the years of anguish at the Giro were forgotten. It had been a monumental performance by a man of immense class on the bike, and immense class off it. Some framed it as a rebuke to those who’d derided him as the “Hamlet of cycling”, but Zilioli wasn’t given to that sort of conceit. He resolved to enjoy his days in yellow, and that’s precisely what he did. It’s true to say that Merckx probably wouldn’t have chosen to cede the jersey to a team mate (or anyone else for that matter) but when the dust settled he was genuinely pleased for him. What comes around goes around…
His fourth day in yellow saw a short, northeasterly gallop from Amiens to Valenciennes. That meant cobbles and Faema’s tactic – if that’s the right word – was rudimentary enough. They’d ride hard on the front all afternoon, and see who went out the back. At Cambrai, some 30 kilometres out, their maillot jaune punctured. Vigna exhorted them to wait, but Driessens was having none of it. The race was on, and both Luis Ocaña and Roger Pingeon, the 1967 winner, had been shelled out. Faema couldn’t countenance dragging them back on, and so Zilioli was left to fend for himself. He fought manfully, but it wasn’t to be. 
As Vigna tells it there was quite the discussion back at the hotel, but ultimately the entente cordiale held. Neither he nor Zilioli are inclined to hold grudges, and truth be told it was only a matter of time before Eddy took the jersey anyway. Zilioli isn’t much given to nostalgia and, aged 82, he still prefers cycling to talking about cycling. The bike he rides is an Eddy Merckx, because what’s an extra day in yellow between friends? 

History will have its way, and Marino and Italo have become iconic figures in Italian cycling. That’s perfectly understandable, because at root they are good, principled, modest men. They choose their friends accordingly, and theirs is a friendship which has endured. It was formed in cycling, but in some way it transcends it. Likewise their respective friendships, 53 years on, with the winner of the 1970 Tour de France.


universally pegoretti

The Pegoretti workshop has always been a meeting point for friends and family, opening its doors to cyclists from across the globe, all bound by a common thread:their love for riding and passion for Pegoretti.

But the relationships formed in the ‘Bottega’ go well beyond Verona. Once back home, Pegoretti’s guests update the team with photos and messages and occasionally even send something handmade from their home region. It’s a vibrant and continual connection that links the Pegoretti workshop to the world.

To celebrate this special relationship, Pegoretti commissioned British filmmaker Frederick Shelbourne to meet Pegoretti owners where they ride, to tell their stories and see their life on and off the bike.


In episode one of ‘Universally Pegoretti’, we head to Puebla in Mexico to meet José Federico, owner of the company that makes Pegoretti’s t-shirts, and Carlos Del Rio, a proud Pegoretti owner, who shows the film crew around his town aboard his custom Ciavete Duende.

udog tensione

UDOG knows that cycling is about pushing and pulling pedals for hours, so they designed and developed the first ever cycling shoe that follows your feet when pulling up. The TENSIONE — the first ever shoe that wraps your feet from the bottom to the top. Available now at VIA in sizes 5—12.

get ready for aw23 with velocio

Velocio’s best-selling Utility Thermal Bib short sees practical design meet versatile comfort. Now updated with two low profile pockets, the fleece lined thermal bib is highly breathable and wicking to provide warmth without bulk. Finished with a PFAS-free durable water repellent finish to protect from passing showers, and an integrated windproof panel throughout the seat for added protection from the cold.

The CONCEPT Merino Long Sleeve blends ultra-fine Italian milled merino wool with nylon and elastane for fit and durability. It’s a standalone for cooler autumnal days, or the ultimate mid-layer beneath a jacket when winter arrives. Now available in Midnight Plum.

introducing the q lab

“Q36.5 was born as a research laboratory — allowing for unrestrained experimentation and innovation in the cycling industry,” says Luigi Bergamo, CEO & Head of R&D at Q36.5.


“Each piece of our clothing is highly technical, allowing riders to push themselves to the limit, while keeping their body temperature at the optimal 36.5°C.”


Q36.5’s proprietary fabrics have been created through a combination of in-house expertise with world-class materials from Italian textile manufacturers.

Their ‘3 Points of Contact’ system focuses on the three areas where the body comes into contact with the bike — gloves, bibs, shoes — to ensure optimal power transfer, comfort, and performance.


And, with a focus on optimum thermoregulation, every Q36.5 product is designed to achieve the goal of being able to ride comfortably all-year-round, in all weather conditions, for all training intensities, maintaining the ideal body temperature of 36.5°C at all times.


Want to upgrade your cycling game this year? Power, speed, and cadence are pretty standard these days, but what if your bike computer could predict upcoming gradient changes or find you a coffee shop along your route? Whether you’re a seasoned gravel rider or commuting by e-bike, see the road ahead with the Hammerhead Karoo 2. Now available to trial at VIA.

There’s no such thing as bad weather with velobici

For Autumn/Winter ’23, Velobici has a fresh take on its Hugo Thermal collection, turning the colourway of the sellout kit into reverse, with a deep green jersey. You still get those incredible thermal properties and that England Made VB attention to detail.

Otherwise, it’s all about protection from the elements, with a new colourway for the Alfred rain jacket, a re-release of the Albert, and a new Superlight Jacket — a brilliantly useful piece of kit that folds down tiny to stash away for those moments when the heavens open unexpectedly.


The Kreissäge is an aluminium road bike frame made to go fast, brake late, hit the apex, accelerate out of turns and sprint for whatever you are sprinting for. Now available in three new vibrant colourways.

The Kreissäge’s high end aluminium frames are handmade and hand painted with expertise, with a full monocoque carbon fork and the capacity to ride wide tires (Rim 28mm max capacity and Disc 30mm max capacity). All three new designs are available as disc and rim versions, framesets and complete bikes.


The PNS AW 23 Off-Race collection is the result of their dedication to high-quality fabric, construction and production. From Down Jackets, to Down Vests, Fleeces and Ts, the Off-Race collection is functional, adaptable and stylish, and suitable for life on and off two wheels. In store at VIA now.


This month we hosted our latest pop-up with Australian apparel company, Attaquer. Art, music and fashion have always run deep in Attaquer’s DNA, so where better to launch their latest collaboration with Kappa, than at VIA.

We organised a bunch of activations that took advantage of our atelier and event space, which saw Attaquer launch its capsule collection with a brilliant party for our community, followed by a number of ambassador-led rides and an Attaqa x Kappa takeover of the traditional VIA Wednesday morning laps. Fans of the kit were also able to buy the (now sold out) capsule collection in-store at VIA.

Thanks to everyone who rode, partied and celebrated with us! We can’t wait to see you at the next event.

If you’re interested in taking over a space at VIA, please email Michael at VIA.


This Saturday 30th September join us and our friends North London Dirt, POC and Mission Workshop, for the second edition of a sell out event.


The NLD route masters have put together another incredible mixed terrain loop which starts and finishes at VIA and takes in some of their favourite gravel trails.

The weekend will kick off with a party at VIA on Friday 29th September 19:00 — 23:00 with beers and a DJ set from NLD. Your ticket includes entry and drinks at the party and a post ride drink on Saturday. A donation from each ticket sale will also be made to the St Mary’s Centre.





Some years ago I was in conversation with a Spanish rider from the mid-sixties…

Breathlessly he told me about his Tour de France stage win, and about the transformative nature of it. In essence he’d found himself in the right break on a transition stage, and had surprised himself by winning the sprint. It had been a mater of millimetres, but they’d changed his life dramatically. He’d been a household name in France (albeit fleetingly), and France had been much wealthier than Franco’s Spain. Over three delirious post-Tour weeks he’d earned fully a year’s salary at the criteriums, and he and his wife had been able to buy an apartment of their own.


When I asked him what it was like, he explained that it was easily the best thing he ever did, and easily the worst. He said it had been three weeks of utter madness, and better still he had the letters, sent to his wife as he and his travelling companion crisscrossed France, to prove it…. 

28 June, Thonon-Les-Bains

Hello my darling,


Well it looks like I won’t be with you on the beach after all! Piel (he’s the one who organizes criteriums) came to me immediately after the stage. He says there will be at least 10 criteriums for me if I go with him and more if I win another. So even if we don’t make a holiday we will be able to create a beautiful bedroom for our little one. Piel hasn’t said how much he will pay because it’s still early. Jimenez says he will also speak with Doussett but maybe it can be less easy with him. Doussett pays the most but he has only the big champions and I’m not really one like them. Anyway Jimenez says with Piel I don’t have to worry. It’s why I came to the Tour and everything is good. I’ll speak to Luis and see how it all works but Luis says it’s OK – they pay in cash. Maybe they will give us one of the team cars because it will be a lot of travelling. People is nice here, and the French are crazy about cycling. Every morning the same with the autographs at the hotel which today is better. Food OK, some mountains tomorrow and hot. It’s hard but I am well.


Luis tears the pages from the road book each evening, and now I do the same. It makes it a little lighter each day and it helps. Each stage is five pages and I take the pages and put them in the bin. it’s a good initiative and it helps a little bit because we feel closer to Paris. That’s all. 


I love you endlessly and I think about you and the family we will make. 

3 July, Perpignan

Hello my sweetness,


Well maybe you saw what happened and it was a dirty trick by the Belgian guy. I told him my emotions and now I don’t want to say anything more. It will make angry of me and that isn’t helpful because I need to be calm. The better news is that Piel says 15 criteriums for me and I think 600 francs for each. So even if they keep 10% it’s fantastic. This is the reality of the Tour de France! In two weeks I will get the wages of 8 months.

Luis will be my criterium companion! It means we will share the driving and Sanchis says he will fly home. They have agreed to lend us the car because we have been good ones and the bosses are happy with our behaviour. Luis has friends everywhere in France so we can stay with the friends – save money. He says if we can’t stay with them we will be with friends of the friends or auberges which will host us without money. In France it’s like that for cyclists because we are like kings. Luis says we must be intelligent and not treat it like a holiday. He says it will be hard but we can share the driving and get lots of money and spend very little. He told me the money the French are paying him and I really don’t believe it. With the money he gets we could buy two apartments on Calle Poniente! Maybe one of the French teams will take me if Luis can help. He likes me and I always try to be correct. He decides the beds, he has the shower first and the newspaper and the massage. I take care of all the small things and don’t make problems and try to make Luis laugh. Yesterday Luis wanted Orangina and I fetched it for him even if the walking was terrible. Luis has lots of pressure and he’s happy to share with me. He snores like a donkey! It’s OK and I am fine. 

Julio is worried because he doesn’t have good legs and the mountains are coming. Maybe he can do something and we have to support him. Today I spoke with Anquetil! He is very nice! He says if I need anything he will help. He says I am a good rider. Tell your father I have a signed jersey for him from Luis! Anquetil will give me one also but he says I must wash it myself!

Rest well because you must take care of our little one. I love you and I mis you very much. When I am home you will make for me a special gazpacho and we will find joy together in our place!

6 July, Toulouse

Hello my darling, 

Today I finally have the chance to write because it’s been long hard days and exhaustion for me. I wanted to write last night but there was no possibility because my body had no strength. I remember I picked up the pen and it was too much heavy. I must have fallen asleep because in my eyes there was not the strength to stay open. It was 8.45 and when Luis woke me it was 7.30 and he was laughing. Today was an easy day with no climbing and finally some fun in the group even if everyone is exhausted. Already 34°.

Luis said the important thing for me is to be not using energy because it’s 10 more days and they will decide if I am a real cyclist. If I can survive the Pyrenees I will get the criteriums money and we both know that’s important for our future.

I am happy your mother is a little bit proud of me. Maybe she can start to accept that this is my work and I am serious. I want to be the best cyclist but also a good husband and eventually father. If I can make six more years cycling we can have a house and maybe we will buy the bar in the village. Mr Torres is old now and that his son won’t come back. Joaquin will stay in Madrid and I think Torres would be happy if we took the bar. Tell your father! He is a friend of Torres so he can ask a special price if I arrive in Paris! Anyway we can have our dreams. 

I like that everyone there is cheering for me. In the terrible moments I try to think of walking with you in our little square with the orange trees. It helps to make the terribleness pass. I will write again when (if) I arrive to Bayonne. Say a prayer for me because will come now the hardest days. Luis says there is strength in me and I must understand how to find it. I don’t understand but Luis says I will understand everything soon enough. He says everything will become clear. 

Thes cuttings I send are from French newspapers. When they write about me it’s good because that way the people know who I am and that can help. That’s why I have to try to be in the break even if my body is tired. Every day is like a tightrope. I have to think about the road book and about the criteriums money. 

I love you very much.

Bayonne, 9 July

Hello my darling, 
I am alive and you should not worry. Yesterday on the Tourmalet I don’t know what happened. Cazala that is French and very nice he stayed with me because I was really finished. Without him I wouldn’t have been able because I was riding and dreaming at the same time. I wasn’t really asleep but I wasn’t awake, so my body was doing without me. Cazala said I was a robot and I don’t know how to explain better but he gave me something and said it was normal and I didn’t have to think about it. After that I was a little bit more OK on the Aubisque and somehow I made it. The problem is that I didn’t sleep and it was hot like an oven. I wanted to go out for a walk but it was 4 o’clock and I couldn’t wake Luis so I stayed and imagined the beach of Almeria. I don’t know why. Anyway today was the time trial and so I rested and I feel a little bit alive. Perhaps 10% anyway.

Julio is good and Luis is good. They know how to do the Tour and they are becoming stronger as I become weak. We are making money even if I can’t help and Fernando can’t do anything. Lots of riders didn’t survive the Pyrenees. Perez Frances and Pachehco went home and even Bracke. I am a bit ashamed but in a way I take pleasure when riders from other teams abandon, even if they are Spanish. Every small thing becomes so important here because the exhaustion is total. Yesterday I was so hot and thirsty that I wanted to throw myself off the mountain to make it stop. I dreamed of falling through the air and it gave me pleasure. 90 kilometres in this hot without a drink. The Vuelta is nothing like this!


Joaquim is in a bad condition. His arm is very bad and he seems like a crazy one when I speak with him. But Joaquim is strong like a lion and being crazy is helping so I think he will make it. Piel gave us a list of places for the criteriums so I must look at the map. Luis says it’s OK but I must do what he says and I mustn’t think. He says my job in the criteriums will be sometimes at the front but not to win. They will tell me how to do everything and if I follow the instructions everything will be fine. 
17/7 Valence

19/7 Cavaillon
19/7 Nimes

21/7 Pleurtuit
22/7 Quimper
23/7 Arras 
24/7 Rouen
25/7 Redon
25/7 Angers
26/7 Tours
26/7 Ambois
27/7 Ussel
There may be some more but Piel will tell me everything. Go to the church and say a prayer because if everything works out your husband will be a Tour de France finisher in five days. Then when I get home I will sleep a little and finally we will buy for you the dress from the shop in Calle Lorca. We will go together and you will be even more beautiful. The most beautiful of all!
Stay well my love. 

6 July, Paris

Hello my lovely!


It was wonderful to speak with you even if they only allow us five minutes in the telefon cabin. I hope your back will be well and I think to understand that this the Tour de France has been hard also for you. Tell to Torres that we will go and make a meeting. That could be an amazing thing don’t you think it?

Well everything is done and I had a good night for sleeping. Today it is wonderful to think about no cycling for two days. Luis and I have the car and Sergio that is the mechanic was good so the bikes are ready with new bar tape, chain and cables. We have our jerseys and we will leave for Valence. It is 600 kilometres! Luis says we will get food from the hotel here and ask them for a late check out. We can stay in a room here until midnight and then begin to drive. If we drive in the night we can save money. I don’t like it but I stayed quiet and it’s OK for one time I guess. We have to get money now so that’s the objective. In Valence will be also Manzaneque, Galera and Bahamontes. Luis has the things we need for the tiredness and we will arrange everything at the end. Piel says four extra days with three circuits and Holland and three in Belgium. I accepted. I know it’s hard for you but for those extra days it’s a lot of money and we have 50% of a second-hand car. I think it’s best and Luis agrees. 

Say thanks to don Alfonso for his prayers. I will leave now because the funny little one from Marca wants to make an interview. I will answer his questions and then write to my mother. Then I will sleep some more because with more sleep will arrive more energy. 

P.S. Say thanks also to Ramirez!

23 July Arras

Hello my love,


I’m so sorry but they made us drive 1000 kilometres and now from Brittany another 750 kilometres!!! This world I am living in is insane. There is no sleep because we must always drive and the circuit races are crazy, with amateurs pushing and shouting. Yesterday it was a velodrome with a cinder track and a French guy knocked me off the bike! I said him that he could have broken easily my collarbone and it’s not real racing so WHY? To finish in position 10 instead of 11? He shouted that for him it’s real and I should fuck off back to Spain if I don’t like France! 


This morning Fontona who is one of the Italians did a fake crash on his own because he said it was too dangerous to ride with these people. Darrigade is very nice but they don’t listen because for them and why? Because it’s the big occasion and they can tell everyone they were stronger than the Tour de France guys. IDIOTS. The people is nice but this living is not nice. It’s not human,, the way we are doing. Piel is paying but not everything. He says that in Quimper they were not correct so only half the money. I’m not happy and Luis is not happy. I must be calm. Tonight we have an omnium with French, Belgium and Italians. So we can decide everything together and have some fun without crazy amateurs trying to be a hero. Then an auberge so at last good food and good sleep. Three hours in the car tomorrow (which is good) but then two criteriums in one crazy day. 

Piel says he expected more from me. I said how can I do more? and he said I must animate more and make the thing spectacular!!!! What do they want from us? Do they think we are here for jokes? Are we a circus act to be shown around?

26 July



You are angry but you don’t understand anything of this situation! We have to take pills and we race at insane speeds with idiots. We try only to survive and then we drive again. I try to laugh and be nice for the photographs. For the French it’s nice but sleep doesn’t come and Luis is like a tiger in a cage. This night I had no bed because the Italians arrived before us. An old woman put us up but there were cats and you know about my allergy. Luis had the couch and I was on the floor again. Your life in the village is serene and this is the life I am doing. 


You have your parents and your friends and you are doing your things in regularity. I am here alone doing craziness. I lost 5 kilos all for our future and your mother says I’m not an attentive husband? 


Ramirez can go to hell. I don’t care.  

Rottedam, 30 July

We will make a stop in Andorra. Sergio is in the hospital. We will talk about everything on Wednesday. Luis told Piel everything that he thinks. He is completely out of his mind. 


Never again. 


You are my wife and I love you. 


A huge thank you to everyone who came out to race and support us at this year’s inaugural VIA Criterium. We’ve been deluged by goodwill and requests to put the event on next year. It was an incredible experience and the groundswell of community spirit has blown us away.


Keep updated for an announcement on next year’s event — it’ll be bigger, better and hopefully the sun will come out to play.

Images taken at VIA Criterium by Andy Donohoe, Calum Brookes and Nick Frendo.

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The 1973 Giro was a pan-European odyssey conceived by the greatest of all race directors. Herbie Sykes recalls Vincenzo Torriani’s masterpiece...

They didn’t tend to agree on much at the Italian Cycling Federation. In truth there was nothing new in that, but now this Olympic medal table – this abomination – spoke for itself. It was the winter of 1972, and their sport seemed to be in crisis like never before.

For decades, bike racing had been a bulwark of the Italian Olympic movement, the pride of the Bel Paese. In 1956 the azzurri had helped themselves to half of the cycling events, and four years later in Rome they’d been nigh-on invincible. They’d accounted for five of the six golds, and at Tokyo ’64 they’d podiumed in every event. Mexico had been a chastening experience, not least because the French had invested so heavily in the track. They’d all-powerful at the velodrome, but Mario Zanin had won gold in the road race. There’d been medals in the team pursuit, 100 kilometre team time trial and sprint, so all things considered it hadn’t been too bad.


At Munich, however, they’d been a laughing stock. The Dutch, the French and the Soviets had each claimed gold medals, and likewise the Danes and the Norwegians. Two Australians had won silver on the track, and even the Brits had picked up a bronze. Italy had come away with precisely nothing. The proverbial fist full of flies…


Munich had been bad, but it hadn’t happened in a vacuum. Merckx had been unstoppable in Milan-Sanremo and Lombardy, and once again the Giro had been a procession. Everyone had known Merckx would win, but an all-foreign podium? Five Spaniards in the top ten? Fuente in green and De Vlaeminck in ciclamino? Pitiable.


These “new” cycling nations were simply more progressive. Unencumbered by some romanticized, rose-tinted veneration of the past, they were eager to embrace new ideas and new methodologies. Italy, on the other hand, was stuck in a rut. It desperately needed new stars, but in order for them to emerge it needed new ideas. It needed to re-engage with the Italian public, because if it didn’t there’d be no new riders and no new sponsors. And that, for Vincenzo Torriani, represented an existential threat…

Torriani ran the cycling programme of the La Gazzetta dello Sport, and by extension Italian Cycling PLC. In 25 years at the helm he’d seen pretty much everything, but he’d never seen the Italian public so indifferent. That was why Filotex had pulled out, and Salvarani had pulled out. They’d been paying Gimondi and Bitossi to win, but Gimondi hadn’t won a meaningful bike race for years and Bitossi had sold himself to Merckx at the Giro.


Cycling was popular again as a pastime, but there was a dislocation between that and the professional sport. Torriani had tried to address it as best he could, and had moved the Giro finish from the stuffy old Vigorelli to the Duomo. The piazza had been full that afternoon, but he wasn’t deluding himself. Milan was a single stage of the Giro, a drop in the ocean. As of now he needed a big, bold, statement of intent, and he needed to wrench the attention of the Italian public. Either that or he’d need to find a new one, because he needed for something different to happen. His livelihood depended on it.


The paradox was that the Giro needed Merckx more than ever. Torriani knew – just as everyone knew – that Italy had nobody capable of challenging, not Gimondi and not anybody else. An Eddy monologue would be problematical, but a Giro without him was unthinkable. If he didn’t come then one of the Spaniards would win, or some second-rate Belgian. That couldn’t be allowed to happen.

The issue was that Eddy had made it clear he’d be riding the Vuelta. He wanted to equal Anquetil’s accomplishment in winning all three grand tours, and he very much wanted to do it by beating Ocaña. Even Merckx couldn’t ride all three grand tours and so something – either the Giro or the Tour – had to give.


The Tour’s grande départ had been a closed auction for years. It had rolled out of Amsterdam, Brussels and Cologne, and from time to time it had wandered across the Swiss and Italian borders for stage finishes. Whatever; for all that the direction of travel changed, the cardinal points remained unaltered. The sprinters always had their day in Bordeaux, and the rouleurs prevailed in or close to Roubaix. Pau and Briançon hosted the great mountain stages, and the whole thing concluded at La Cipale. The Tour had a great deal going for it, but nobody could argue that it wasn’t extremely formulaic.


On 13 December 1972, the Tour route was announced. This time it would roll out of Angers, make directly for Brittany, and beat a path towards the Pyrenees. There was nothing unusual in any of that, but for once Belgium wouldn’t feature at all. Nor would Italy or Switzerland because, for the first time since the war, the Tour would remain entirely within the French border. Vincenzo Torriani thought that a very, very interesting development.


Predictably, the Italian press lampooned him for his “tardiness”. Why was it, they chittered, that the Tour was always first out of the blocks? Little wonder their race was more famous than ours, and little wonder it had more spectators. They neglected to mention the fact that France was bigger and wealthier, that the French liked cycling more than the Italians, that the Tour took place during the summer holidays. C’est la vie. He’d heard it all before, and learned to pay no heed. It was his fault when the foreigners won, he was to blame when the racing was turgid and apparently he was responsible for the accidents of Italian geography. Italy doesn’t have a world class stage racer? Blame Torriani. The Giro doesn’t reach every single nook and cranny of the Bel Paese? Blame Torriani…


In mid-January, rumours began to emerge that the Giro, the Tour of Italy, would begin in… Eddy Merckx’ Belgium. Once again, the know-it-alls of press cried foul. How, given that there were any number of Italian communities wanting to host a stage, could he countenance such a thing? Wasn’t his remit to take the race to Italians wherever they were, and wouldn’t the south miss out as a consequence? Wasn’t a Belgian Giro d’Italia by definition an oxymoron, and was he so completely devoid of sensibility as to favour a bunch of northern Europeans of his Italian brethren?

Vincenzo Torriani was a product of WWII. He’d driven the length and breadth of the peninsular, and he’d witnessed at first hand the horrors it had visited upon her people. The Giro – his Giro – had been an important element in Italy’s rinascita, its rebirth. He was by nature a federalist, and by circumstance a committed European. That was why, in the mid-fifties he’d been the architect of the Giro dell’Europa. A pro-am, pan-European stage race featuring riders from both sides of “iron curtain”, it had been a utopian, quixotic idea. The work involved had been monumental, but somehow they’d pulled it off. They hadn’t persisted with it, but as an organizer it had been one of his finest hours. What’s more, conceptually it had been a thing of wonder. A thing, fundamentally, of community.


As of 1 January, that community had expanded. Ireland, Denmark and Britain had acceded, bringing Schuman’s dream of sustainable peace in Europe still closer. For Torriani, though, Europe was much more than decrees and international treaties. In order to work it needed to capture the public imagination, to resonate in its people’s hearts and minds. It had to become a cultural and popular reality, not just an administrative one. That constituted both a responsibility and, in light of the circumstances, an opportunity…


The southern Italian diaspora had been a matter of fact for 150 years. Millions had left for the Americas, and WWII had presaged a mass exodus from the bombed out cities of Calabria, Puglia and Abruzzo. Over in Belgium, the mining communities of the “Black Country” had urgent need of workers. Italy had urgent need of coal, and in 1946 the two countries had reached a treaty. “Coal for Men” would see Italy supply manpower for Belgium’s mining industry, and in exchange there’d be 2-3 millions tonnes of coal annually. Between the cessation and 1949, an estimated 75,000 southern Italians had relocated to Wallonia.


They’d been promised a life of plenty, but the reality had been entirely other. They’d encountered long, backbreaking days in atrocious working conditions, lousy weather and even worse food. The locals by and large despised them, and they were subject to the prejudices and social injustice which has always been the lot of the migrant worker. Where previously they’d been dying of hunger, now they were lost to collapsing mineshafts and to pneumoconiosis, the so-called “miner’s lung”. Over 500 of them are thought to have perished by 1955, but with no unions and no meaningful representation, those who’d refused to work had been arrested and summarily deported. Italian workers in post-war Belgium were like Irish and Carribeans workers in post-war Britain. They were the peace-time equivalent of cannon fodder.


On 8 August 1956, Vincenzo Torriani had been in Zagreb. His magnum opus, the Tour of Europe, was to depart there, and he’d been at his brilliant, buoyant best. By mid-morning, though, news had begun to emerge of a terrible tragedy in Belgium. Electrical cables had sheared in the pit at Marcinelle, and a fire had started. Of the 274 workers in the shaft, only 12 had survived. Over half of the victims had been Italian, 136 in all. One Abruzzese village, Manoppello, had lost 23 of its men. There’d been a trial of sorts, but in a material sense nobody had been held accountable. Those killed had been migrant workers, former prisoners of war and working class Belgians. They’d been coal miners, and apparently their pitch-black lives hadn’t mattered. Regardless, it had been a seminal moment in Italian history. The kind that men like Vincenzo Torriani didn’t forget in a hurry…


Almost seventeen years later, the world’s greatest cyclist (and winner of three giri d’Italia) boarded a ‘plane in Brussels. It was a beautiful spring morning when Eddy Merckx touched down in Rome, climbed aboard a FIAT 500, and arrived in the nick of time at the Pallazzo Chigi. There he, an incurable Italophile, received a knighthood from Prime Minister Giuliano Andreotti. Then, during a private preview of the Giro, Torriani explained that the race would be starting in Wallonia. It would honour not only those lost at Marcinelle, but all the sons and daughters of the Italian diaspora. The Belgian royal family had given the project their blessing, and Princess Paola herself would be on hand to send the riders on their way. Born in Tuscany of Italian nobility, she’d met Belgium’s Prince Albert during an audience with the Pope at The Vatican. She’d been 21 at the time, but when they’d married in Brussels two years later, she’d been widely regarded as one of Europe’s most beautiful women.

The point of this Giro, Merckx was informed, was that it was much more than a bike race. It was a symbol of fellowship between two great nations (and indeed between all the peoples of Europe), but also an honouring of those lost at Marcinelle. He’d be their emissary, and through him the people of Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg, France and Germany would be familiarized with their story. All the founding states of the EEC, all for one and one for all. On day five the race would cross the Mont Blanc Tunnel. It would alight in the Aosta Valley, completing a genuine cycling odyssey.


Interviewed afterwards, Eddy Merckx said he wouldn’t be riding the 1973 Tour de France after all. The Giro, he added, was much better suited to his “characteristics”.

Of course there were the usual nayseyers. The shit-kicker Marino Basso couldn’t understand why the foreigner Merckx had been knighted while he, the current world champion, hadn’t. Furthermore he didn’t see why the Giro needed to go to Belgium, or anywhere else for that matter. He was a very good sprinter, Basso, but he wasn’t terribly bright.


Someone chuntered that riding through the Mont Blanc Tunnel would be dangerous. Torriani said he’d thought of all that, and lighting the riders’ way would be a trifle. It wouldn’t be in the least bit dangerous, but it would be historic. When they complained that there’d be no TV coverage of the foreign stages, Torriani said that was entirely the point. Italy took the Giro for granted, but now they’d need to reckon with what they’d be missing. The Giro was their biggest and best sporting event, but much more besides. Nothing united Italy’s tribes the way it did, and yet in their indolence and provincialismo they’d lost sight of the fact. Conversely, the Belgians, the Germans and the Swiss couldn’t wait to host it. For them it was impossibly glamorous; manna from the sporting heavens. Verviers, home to a large Italian population, would host the partenza. For the people there, it was beyond their wildest imaginings.


Torriani had done it again. At a stroke he’d second-guessed Goddet, and snared Merckx. He honoured those lost in the disaster, and indeed all the sons of the Italian diaspora. All that, whilst increasing the Giro’s visibility and stature tenfold.


And, of course, reminding his countrymen of the absolute majesty of the Giro d’Italia…


A genius? Probably…


Clear the diaries because this is one event you won’t want to miss!


On July 22nd / 23rd, in association with British Cycling, VIA is hosting a day of bicycle races in and around the King’s Cross estate, with an extended community programme on Sunday, 23rd July.


The VIA CRITERIUM King’s Cross is the first of its kind – a true celebration of cycling and community in the capital.


The 1km route, designed in conjunction with British Cycling and adhering to its meticulous health and safety protocols, is a stunner and showcases the best of the historic King’s Cross estate, with over 80% of the course offering spectacular viewing access for spectators.


Saturday 22nd will see a series of races, a brand/expo village, demo/test rides with your favourite bike brands (time for an N+???), a balance bike area, community activations, street vendors, test areas, maintenance sessions and great street food. It’s also our first anniversary, so join us for a celebration at the end of the racing.


Keep an eye on our Instagram channel [] for exact race timings and full details of the event.


Sunday 23rd will be a day for the community, with guided rides, ‘have a go’ sessions in a safe environment for those less comfortable on two wheels and workshops on a range of bike-related topics.





The Van Aert-Van der Poel rivalry has been a godsend for ‘cross, but it hasn’t happened in a vacuum. Herbie Sykes met the great Renato Longo, one of its architects…

“We had a small piece of land, but it wasn’t enough to feed the four of us. So on 22 August 1951 I left Vittorio Veneto for Milan. I was 14 years and 13 days old. 


By then I’d already been working on a farm for three years. Hardly anyone went to middle school because you needed to work. We lived in the countryside, and the school was seven kilometres away. I’d have had to walk there and back each day, because there was no money for public transport or anything like that.


By the time I got to Milan my mum had been there for eighteen months or so. She was in domestic service for a bank director, and the bakery she went to needed someone. I went, and I was the garzoncino. I lived with the owner and they gave me my food and 4000 lire a month.

So I’d start work at the bakery about 3.30 in the morning, and about 8 o’clock I’d set off on the bike to do the deliveries. That was when the shops opened, so I’d do them first because they needed the bread to sell to their customers. As often as not I’d set out with 30 kilograms of bread. After the shops I’d start with the households, and that was good because I’d get tips. I used to put that money aside. We used to shut for lunch at 1, and open again between 3.30 and 8 o’clock. I was quite busy.


I was there for a year, but then the owner let me go. That was normal though, because that was the point at which he’d have had to start paying me properly. In the meantime my dad had managed to sell the house, so he came to Milan and we shared a room. We didn’t have water or heating, but that was normal as well. Anyway I found a job in a different bakery, and I was able to get washed there. Then I found a job in a third bakery, and that was the start of it. The owner was a big fan of Fausto Coppi, and he rented the shop from Gaetano Belloni. He’d won the Giro in 1920, and he was very famous in Italy. So one way or another we were always talking about cycling, and they gave me some tickets for the World Track Championships at the Vigorelli. I went, and it was wonderful. I’d always liked cycling, but I think that was when I truly fell in love with it. 



When there was a race starting in Milan – say Milan-Sanremo or Lombardy – we used to make the panini for Bianchi. We used to take them to the hotel where they were staying on the eve of the race, and I remember thinking that Coppi would be eating a panino we’d made. I was a real baker now, and that meant I started work at 1.30. The Alfa Romeo shift changed at 5.30, and we needed to have the panini ready for the blue-collar workers as they got off the tram. Then at midday we’d deliver the bread to the factory canteen, and my working day would end at about 1 o’clock. Sundays were different because the Alfa Romeo factory was closed and I’d be done by 10 o’clock. 


Eventually my dad got a decent job, so we got a little apartment with two rooms and my sister came. I saved up and bought a bike, an old Legnano which had been repainted. It was 27,000 lire and I bought it on tick. It wasn’t great, but I didn’t know any better. One of the cyclists I met was Amerigo Severini. He was a cyclo-cross rider, and he’d been third at the World Championships that year. Like all the best Milanese riders he used to train by riding circuits of Parco Sempione at 5.30 in the afternoon. He asked me if I wanted to go along and give it a try, so I did. Severini said he thought I could be a decent rider and in October 1955 I got a racing licence. Obviously the road season was already finished, so my first race was a ‘cross race. I finished fifteenth, but I liked it straight away.


‘Cross was very popular in France, but not in Italy. There were races most weekends but there weren’t enough riders to delineate between age groups and suchlike, so everyone just got thrown in together. There’d usually be 20 or 30 of us, and I remember racing against Luigi Malabrocca, for example. My first win was in 1956, near Vicenza. There were four of us from the club, and we climbed into the mechanic’s little FIAT 1100. Somehow we set off with four riders and four bikes on the roof, though I still don’t quite know how we managed. I dropped everyone that day, and rode to the finish. That was all fine, but what with the prizegiving and everything I wasn’t done until getting on for 7 o’clock. There was no motorway back then, so there was no way I was going to get back in time to start work. In the end I spent all my winnings on the train fare home, slept for an hour, and started work on time. 


We raced on Sunday afternoons, and I always seemed to be in a rush. I had to rush to get done in time at work, then rush to the race. The race itself was a rush, and then I had to rush to get home. Anyway I started doing well I guess…

In 1957 I was reserve for the World Championships in Paris. I didn’t go, but the following weekend there was a “challenge” race, a postscript to the Worlds with all the participants. I was invited to that, and they gave me the time off. I’d never been abroad before so they said, “When you get off the train in Paris, change your money into francs and buy a copy of L’Équipe. That way you’ll know where the race is, and you can ask someone for directions.” I couldn’t speak a word of French, but there was a photo of Dufraisse, the World Champion, and I saw that the race was at Bois de Vincennes. There was an old guy sat on a bench smoking his cigarette, so I went up to him and showed him the photo of Dufraisse. I said, “Where is Bois de Vincennes?” and he said, “Eh-la-la! Pas de problème! Viens avec moi!”


When I got there I understood that it was a serious sport. There were 100 riders and a big crowd, and it was all highly professional and organised. Guys like Dufraisse and Meunier rode for big, famous, important teams. They were salaried bike riders, and I was a baker.



The 1958 Worlds were held in Limoges, Dufraisse’s home town. Everyone was expecting him to win his fifth rainbow jersey. They gave me the time off, and I made my way across there. Dufraisse won, Severini was second, a young German guy was third and I was fourth. The German guy was called Rolf Wolfshohl, and he and I were the only amateurs. We were the youngest in the race, and we got on well as far as I could tell. We spoke different languages, but I liked him and I think he liked me.   


The following year the top four was reversed. I won the rainbow jersey, Rolf was second, Severini third and Dufraisse fourth. So I was the world champion, but I was still working at the bakery to support myself. The Belgian and French riders were professionals, and that didn’t feel right to me. I was younger than them and apparently better than them, but I was from a country that had no particular interest in ‘cross. After the Worlds I signed as a professional with IGNIS. They paid me 40,000 lire a month at first, and that was pitiable. It was much less than the road guys they had, but at least I was able to call myself a cyclist and to live like one. As world champion I was invited to races in Germany, Switzerland, France and Belgium, so the bike became my livelihood. Later I rode for Europhon and then for eight seasons I was with Salvarani. During the summer I was a gregario for guys like Gimondi and Rudi Altig, and between October and March I rode ‘cross. 


I couldn’t beat Rolf in a sprint, but I was maybe a little stronger and I was the better runner. He and I were much better than the rest, so either he won the World Championship or I did. By 1965 ‘cross had become quite popular in Italy. Rolf and I each had three rainbow jerseys, and they organized for the World Championship to be held near Varese. There were 20,000 people watching, and I managed to drop him on the final lap. 


He and I went here, there and everywhere together. We raced all over Europe, and when we weren’t on our bikes we were driving. My father had been in a concentration camp for 26 months, and the war had damaged him a lot. Rolf’s father had been killed in the war, so we’d both endured quite sad childhoods. In some way that united us, but the thing was we both knew how to lose. We were fierce rivals during the races, but off the bike we were extremely close. He was straightforward and 100 per cent honest, and we never had a crossed word…”

Between 1959 and 1967, the great Renato Longo won five world championships. His friend and adversary Rolf Wolfshohl won three, and their rivalry was instrumental in popularizing ‘cross in Europe. As the sun set on their careers, the Flandrian Eric De Vlaeminck supplanted them at the top of the sport. His seven rainbow jerseys represent the foundation stone upon which Belgium’s cyclo-cross culture was built. 



When you’re riding full gas, there’s little time to appreciate anything about the countryside other than how fast it’s rushing by.


The OSTRO Gravel was made for such rides – combining elite gravel performance with state of the art aerodynamics and a tire clearance of up to 45mm, the OSTRO Gravel weighs in at just 900g – making it one the the lightest gravel frames available.


Available to test ride now at VIA.


Gravel, secluded roads and unbeaten paths bring freedom for anyone willing to find them. It’s a place where nature tests your endurance and grit.


An arena for both serenity and brutal racing.


No matter if your ride takes you around the world or over a finish line, the POC Ultra collection helps you stay protected from the elements and those hard days in the saddle.


Coming soon to VIA.


CX, Cyclocross, Cross… no matter what you call it, it’s where the often very formal sport of cycling rips off its shirt to get rowdy & dirty. And what better way to get stuck in than on the Standert Stichsäge. Handmade and painted in Italy, the Stichsäge is made from scandium aluminium, has fully integrated cabling, tire clearance to fit up to 40mm and full carbon fork. 


Currently on show at VIA.


Brooks England has continued to add on to their versatile SCAPE range of bikepacking bags with an expanded, longer version of their popular Top Tube bag.


There’s also a new Bolt-On version, which offers great stability and reliable, easy fastening, which pairs perfectly with Brooks Cambium models, which have long been the perch of choice for many discerning gravelleurs.


Available to see at VIA.


“It’s no secret that tire choice fundamentally dictates the aesthetic of your build and this choice is the ultimate expression of performance and beauty. We all know your bicycle is an extension of your personality, your riding style a window into your soul. In a world paralyzed by dull and mediocre options we invite you to choose dynamically.”


Now available at VIA.



Serves 4 as a main course / 6-8 as a starter


  • 2.5 litres of vegetable stock
  • 150g butter, plus an extra knob to finish
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 head of radicchio, shredded
  • 500g Arborio rice
  • 375ml red wine
  • 175g Taleggio cheese
  • Handful of grated parmesan cheese
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper



Put the vegetable stock in a pan and bring to just below a simmer.

Melt the butter in a large heavy pan and sweat the onion gently until translucent. Add the shredded radicchio and cook until wilted.

Add the rice and stir until the grains are all well coated in the butter. Add the wine, increase the heat and reduce the wine by two-thirds.

Then start adding the hot stock gradually, about 200ml at a time, stirring each addition in well, until the rice is tender. This normally takes around 20 minutes.

Take off the heart, stir in the Taleggio cheese, a knob of butter and the grated parmesan. Adjust the seasoning and serve immediately.





In the Autumn of 1965, Tom Simpson helped himself to the World Championship and the Tour of Lombardy. In so doing he turned the global cycling paradigm upside down, and provided a wake-up call for the old order. For the cycling correspondents of the Gazzetta dello Sport, a nightmare scenario…


And so, this halcyon afternoon, to the gilded halls of Via Solferino. Champagne and canopies for the rebirth of Italian cycling, and for the second coming. Half-formed and plukey he may be, but this Felice Gimondi has gone and won the Tour de France. In so doing he’s not only cocked a snook at the host’s grandeur, but brought forth the age of enlightenment. He’s barely out of his teens, but no matter; our Felice has single-handedly delivered ciclismo from its post-Coppi neurosis. Better still he’s scrawny and not a little callow, a perfect fit for the “New Fausto” epithet we shall heretofore be applying. He set sail for Paris as a humble gregario, but came back a giant. It’s the stuff dreams are made of, and it goes without saying that he’s the new Coppi. The new Coppi, the new Binda, the new Italy perfectly distilled. He won’t necessarily like it, but he’ll get used to it. Besides, that’s just the way of it. We have newspapers to sell. 


It transpires bike racing’s not anachronistic after all. Rather cycling – this shiny new iteration – is the coolest of all things. We’d led ourselves to believe it’s a tired old sport for tired old men but that, in light of Gimondi’s accession, is patently false. There’s a new breed of cyclist; sleek and dynamic and (given the commercial opportunity the jersey bestows) eminently bankable. It’s our conviction, therefore, that the modern rider has next to nothing in common with the dullards who preceded him. They were invariably tongue-tied, pig-ugly and illiterate, but he’s cut from a different cloth entirely. 


Gimondi is a case in point, and so is Michele Dancelli. He’s provocative and impossibly handsome, and those looks of his keep getting him into trouble. Dancelli can’t say no, while his alter-ego, the Torinese Zilioli, can’t say yes. He is cycling’s Hamlet, his emotional wellbeing health bludgeoned by the wrecking ball which is his talent. Zilioli can’t sleep at night, the clinicians are at a loss and nobody – not anybody – is so adept at finishing second. His creativity in losing bike races seems infinite, and one can’t help but suspect he does it on purpose. The Giro winner Adorni is the very antithesis of Zilioli, and of the cycling archetype. He’s expansive, saccharine and movie-star handsome, and that sort of thing appeals to a certain kind of fan. Then Motta is mercurial, extravagantly gifted and – best of all – not a little contrary. He and Gimondi can’t stand one another, and monetizing that is child’s play. The Tuscan Franco “Crazy heart” Bitossi sprinkles gold dust on every race he enters. He’s enigmatic and utterly brilliant, and he’s likely to climb off at any given moment. He goes tachycardic, and that compels him to sit by the roadside until it passes. He has to chase back on, and sometimes he makes it sometimes he doesn’t. That’s just about as good as cycling gets, a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. The Abruzzese Taccone could start a riot in a ‘phone-box. He’s a great climber and a thoroughgoing shit-kicker, and he’s as mad as a box of frogs. Young Poggiali is cunning and resourceful, De Rosso “brooding and introspective” (on account of him not speaking), the giant Zandegù doltishly hilarious. 


We’ll frame it as “cycling reinvented”, with Gimondi front and centre. He’s the standard-bearer, the champions-in-waiting, and collectively they constitute a swashbuckling new generation. Starting with the World Championship, they will restore the natural – which is to say Italian – order of things. It’s been seven long years since one of ours won, but the Flemish will be returned to the below stairs and the French detached from their oh-so lofty perch. 


All clear? Then we’ll proceed. Let “Operazione Nuovo Ciclismo” commence…

Gazzetta dello Sport, Milan, 6 September 1965

It’s the day after the World Championship, and it’s a quarrelsome afternoon figuratively as well as literally. The storm is raging, and the fact is that the so-called “golden generation” has been found wanting. Gimondi’s collarbone failed to heal in time, and Adorni missed too much racing to earn selection. It’s also true that Balmamion and Mealli did what they could, but what they could didn’t amount to much. Neither of them were going to win that race, and the others made a mess of it. They were bogged down with the French in a tactical gluepot, and now the Englishman is the champion of the world. That’s not good for business, but we’re going to have to make the best of it. 


Nobody doubts for one minute that Simpson is a fine rider. This was a monumental performance from him, and that’s entirely the point. You can’t just let guys like him and Altig ride away, because they’re not going to come back to you. It’s all fine and well to mark the French and the Belgians, but why put Balmamion and Mealli in the break? They were never going to win, so why not put Motta in the break? Dancelli could have done something, and De Rosso could have done something. Why leave De Rosso marking Anquetil when Mealli had no chance of winning? 


Anyway the story here is that Simpson is a simpaticone, and you can’t begrudge a guy like that. We’ll be insisting that, as regards character and temperament at least, he’s Italian. He has a generous smile and inquisitive eyes, and none of that bovine Anglo-Saxon detachment. He’s always very approachable, very well-liked in the gruppo, and he’s always ready with a quip. We can draw parallels with George Harrison, and write something about his being the “fifth Beatle”.  For now he’s riding for a French team, but sooner or later he’s bound to come to one of ours. Why? Well because he loves our races and he can’t get enough of our culture! He rode the Six Days of Milan, remember, and he won Milan-Sanremo two years ago! 


Let’s be categorical about this, and state that Simpson is possessed of “Italian spirit”. Let’s play up his love affair with our Bel Paese, and infer that he’s already in dialogue with Molteni and Salvarani. Let’s suggest his Englishness is a mere accident of birth, and portray him as an “Italian in waiting”. We can salivate over the prospect of him working with Gimondi or Motta, and speculate that the bidding war has already started. Pezzi and Albani are bound to say nice things about him, because they understand the business we’re in. It’s their business too, so let’s run with: “SIMPSON – VITTORIA ALL’ITALIANA!” 


(Ours are still learning, and Gimondi will be back soon enough. Motta is sure to win Lombardy, so there’s that).

Gazzetta dello Sport, Milan, 16 October 1965

It’s the morning after the night before, and it was a fitting end to “British Week”. Milan celebrated British culture, British food and British art, and Como celebrated Simpson’s genius. The rainbow jersey ran away with our Tour of Lombardy, and there was nothing to be done about it. He said he wasn’t feeling well, but it turns out that was all a bluff. Simpson looks like a choirboy, but he has the heart of a lion. He won the race of the falling leaves entirely as he pleased, and there’s no point in pretending otherwise. He could race that race ten times, and still he’d win it entirely as he pleased. 


Motta lost three minutes in eight kilometres, and he’s easily the best we have. There’s no shame in that – Simpson is Simpson, after all – but why is it that our guys are so hopelessly out of their depth against him? Why does our cycling seem perennially to be in crisis, and perennially waiting for a new start to emerge? We’ve done nothing since the Coppi and Bartali years, and that’s not likely to change any time soon.


The line here is that we need to learn humility, and we need to accept that we’re no longer the kings. Cycling is different now, because the Dutch, the Germans and the English have learned how to do it. They keep winning the big races, and we need to adapt… 



VIA opened its doors in London’s Kings Cross at the end of July 2022.


A cycling emporium, VIA houses 17 cycling-related brands in a former transit shed on the historic Stable Street. But why VIA and why now? Co-founder, Michael Sodeau, explains all.


“VIA is the result of a combination of ideas – part consumer facing trade show mixed with a high end fashion retailer, where brands sit inside a curated space and are given complete autonomy to tell their story. This creates an exciting space for visitors/consumers and brands, and enables a retail experience that’s never been done before in the cycling world.


VIA was born out of a perfect storm of the coronavirus pandemic, Brexit, supply chain issues and a dwindling high street presence for many cycling brands. We realised that as more manufacturers go direct to consumer, there was an increased need to have somewhere to try on items, touch and feel fabrics, understand fit and sizing and engage with products, rather than buy online on the off-chance that the fit is correct and the size works.


At VIA brands are given free rein to tell a story – whether that’s a particular safety message, a technical innovation or a development in the composites they use. VIA gives them the ability to be able to communicate this in their own way, in their own space. And, unlike traditional retailers where glasses would be in one place, helmets another and apparel somewhere else, at VIA, all the brand’s products are in place, alongside like-minded companies with a similar vision. We think it’s a very dynamic, exciting experiential space.


But it’s also a functional space. We have a cafe, workshop and, in time, a bike fitter, masseuse and tailor, and run a series of events for the London cycling community. Whether that’s a ride, a Q&A, a collection launch or a film screening, VIA has quickly become home for a multitude of cycling clubs keen to celebrate our wonderful sport.”



Officina Dario Pegoretti needs no introduction. The storied Italian brand founded by iconoclast Dario Pegoretti is renowned for the alchemic perfection of its bicycle frames and the unbridled creativity of its signature Ciavete ‘surprise me’ artistic style.


But above all, the ‘Bottega’, as the brand’s workshop in Verona, Italy, is known, is always moving forward. And here at VIA, it was our pleasure to recently welcome the team from Pegoretti for a morning fit session and to get to know its new Responsorium stainless steel disc frame.


Developed as a natural extension of the Pegoretti design language, the brand’s Round and Responsorium disc frames maintain the clean lines and compelling ride characteristics for which Pegoretti is revered while introducing new dropouts and a disc-specific version of their pleasingly curved Falz fork.


Between our personal bikes and installations from Pegoretti, we have several examples of the Officina’s work on display at VIA, including the eye-catching Ciavete Responsorium. So if you’d like to see them for yourself and learn a little more about the brand, pop in and say ciao.


The PAS Capsule Collection is PAS’s take on a uniform race team experience. Introducing a full kit for autumn and winter, the capsule applies a stringent set of graphic elements and lettering on a dark grey canvas.



The outer layers of the PAS Capsule Collection are all extremely packable while maintaining their protective properties. The Pas Stow Away Jacket and Gilet both protect from windchill and light rain, while the PAS Shield Jacket delivers protective performance when the rain sets in. The PAS Shield Jacket features an adjustable drawstring to control fit around the hip and waist.



The PAS Capsule Collection incorporates styles from both the Mechanism and Essential Collections with a few tweaks and adaptations. The men’s and women’s PAS Long Sleeve Jersey is made from the signature soft fleece-backed fabric found in their Mechanism Long Sleeve Jersey and the Stow Away styles are the same trusted fit and fabric as its Mechanism counterpart.



The signature PAS lettering used can also be found on their strictly limited collaborations with Enough Cycling and Steve Tilford Foundation Racing. The signature lettering was originally introduced as part of previous seasons’ T.K.O.-collection. The PAS Capsule Collection for Autumn/Winter 2022 is available online and at select retailers worldwide in limited quantities.


Carbo-titanium sits at the pinnacle of automotive engineering. It was originally developed for use in the Pagani Zonda supercar, and the material has only ever been open to very select partners, of which Passoni is the only bicycle brand.


The Passoni Fidia is conceived around an economy of material in which each carbon strand serves a purpose. The Fidia’s frame is mitred and wrapped in the Passoni atelier in Milan before being cured in an on-site autoclave.


While prioritising lightweight performance and speed, the Fidia’s tube shapes are formed to maximise the riding experience. This is notable in areas including the tapered top tube, which increases rigidity towards the front of the bike, while preserving the flex necessary for a fluid ride.


With fully integrated cabling through Deda’s EDG fork and Alanera handlebar, the Fidia Disc uses a conical carbon headtube housing 1” ½ lower and 1” ⅛ upper carbon bearing cups. Offering precise handling, their design saves weight while retaining the classic Passoni frame aesthetics seen across all the Passoni range.


Less obvious details benefit from similar levels of attention, such as the 3D-printed titanium dropouts, which provide neat integration of the bike’s disc brake callipers.


A true modernist masterpiece.


Watch this space for new UDOG colour ways coming soon…



Don’t worry about removing the skin of the onion squash, as it’s edible and delicious. Fresh sheep’s-milk ricotta can be obtained from a cheesemonger or good deli. This dish makes a good supper for vegetarians and is often served as part of our vegetarian menu.




  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 onion squash, quartered and seeds discarded

  • 50g butter

  • 50ml olive oil, plus a splash for cooking the girolles

  • Sprig of thyme

  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed

  • 100g Fragolina or Muscat grapes

  • 100g girolle mushrooms, wiped and sliced if large

  • Squeeze of lemon juice

  • Handful of land cress or watercress

  • 200g fresh sheep’s-milk ricotta

  • Maldon salt




Preheat the oven to 150c/gas 2.


In an ovenproof casserole, gently colour the seasoned squash in the butter and olive oil. Add the thyme and crushed garlic cloves, and gently roast in the preheated oven until soft, about 20 minutes. Set aside, reserving all the fat and juices.


Put 30g of the grapes in a small saucepan with a splash of water, cover and heat gently until soft and broken down, about 10 minutes. When all the grapes are soft and mushy, strain them through a sieve, pushing all the juice out with a wooden spoon. Sit the remaining grapes in this warm syrupy liquid.


Heat the fat from the squash pan gently in a frying pan and cook the girolles until soft. Season. Drain the girolles, reserving the juices. Add a splash of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice to acidulate these juice; this is the dressing for the salad.


Now arrange the squash, girolles, salad leaves and ricotta on 4 serving plates. Season with Maldon salt, freshly ground black pepper and dressing from the girolles. Scatter the grapes on top and drizzle over some of the juice.


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