Climbing culture, Italian style

One of the pleasures of following European pro cycling, albeit from afar, is the exposure one gets to different cultural norms. Bike ‘culture’ is an ongoing debate and one might usefully divide it into three areas: hardware, software, and programming. Under hardware, we might as an example reference the debate over what constitutes a ‘race’ bike or a set of ‘race wheels’. This debate, mostly confined to the pages of Bicycling magazine, is largely sterile but interesting for the outside observer. The correct answer, of course, is that your race bike (or wheels) is whatever you front up to a race on. We should not judge anyone’s choices in this regard, but simply congratulate them for supporting local racing.

Under software are the various debates over correct appearance and attire for road cycling, such as whether white socks are acceptable with black shoes, whether shorts should be rolled up to show the underside of the leg gripper, and the correct colour of helmets. For some, the trend is to make cycling even more exclusive and elitist, while most others take a much broader view. Again, we should of course not be too quick to judge others and instead welcome their participation in the sport.

Programming, though, or what we might call cultural differences, runs much deeper and is more difficult to overcome. Which is why following European cycling is an important way to broaden one’s horizons. A recent post of Gage+Desoto outlined eight reasons you know you’re an Italian pro. To which might be added a ninth: you post pictures of yourself in your Euro trunks on your website.


Eros Capecchi is an exciting young Italian climbing talent. Aged 25, the Liquigas-Cannondale rider has a rangy build for a climber at 6 feet tall, but light enough at 141 lbs to have little holding him back on the climbs. In the 2011 Giro d’Italia, Capecchi grabbed victory from a three-man break on stage 18 on the roads around Lake Como more familiar to the Giro di Lombardia and which featured 2,500 metres of climbing. (He was DNF at Lombardia later in the year, although so was a large proportion of the field.)

He opened his account this year with a clear win at the GP Citta di Lugano where he attacked on the final climb with 4 kms to ride and was able to hold on to the finish, besting the likes of Damiano Cunego and Michele Scarponi. We might see Capecchi in action not just at the Giro this year (supporting either Nibali or Basso but perhaps allowed to go for a stage win) but also at L-B-L and Lombardia. For now, he will line up at Tirreno-Adriatico in number 135.*

But what to make of his hobbies, Xbox and ‘fashion’, not to mention the pictures in his website gallery section. Yup, that’s Italian pro cycling…


* Actually, he’s riding Paris-Nice instead, wearing number 182, and finished with the leaders in the uphill sprint finish on stage 2.

2 thoughts on “Climbing culture, Italian style

  1. in addition to climbing prowess and no scarcity of self love, capecchi also has one of the more enviable names in recent history.

  2. My boss is also Italian. You should see his shoes. And he drives as though stopping was optional.

    Capecchi is still no Cipollini. Not yet, anyways.

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