BY HERBIE SYKES
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…
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).
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.
CLASSICS AND NEW DEVELOPMENTS
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.
INGREDIENTS [Serves 4]
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 onion squash, quartered and seeds discarded
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
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.