FlavioZappi’s Blog

Cycling and coaching

Driving like the Skoda advert!!

Last Sunday I was with my daughter Saskia for the Womens team series race in Yorkshire. Having set off from Derby at 6am we arrived at about 7.45 and promptly drove in the wrong entrance to find no-one about in the start area. After a while we found our away and found signs of life at a sports centre. The setting for the race HQ was the beautiful Ampleforth Abbey College and grounds near Helmsley.
Saskia didn’t fancy a trip round the course and duly signed on and set going on her roller warm up session. After that we were greeted by an Italian gentleman who asked if we wanted him to take our spare wheels in his service car. We welcomed his generosity and he also asked if I wanted a trip with him in the car. I jumped at the chance to follow Saskia and the race more closely. He asked if I was carsick as he was a little crazy which was a clue to what was to follow. Nevertheless I jumped in behind Flavio. I started to have visions of the Skoda team car TV advert and sterotypes of Italian drivers crossed my mind.
The car was equipped with radio supplied to listen to race progress. In the front were supplies of food and drink and in the back were coats and a pillow presumably for sleeping in the car. In contrast in the boot of the estate car were only the wheels of Saskia, another girl Sophie and Victoria Bussi (Zappi’s Ladies Team). He explained how to shut the boot gently and that we didn’t have to wear safety belts so that we could get out quicker!

Soon we were in the queue of team cars in car no.4; Flavio had been late to the briefing but was not bothered. Soon we were off in the neutralised part of the race and the weather was brightening after the heavy downpours of the night before. Within seconds one of the Matrix girls was on the floor and Flavio and the other cars all overtook her team car that dropped back. She was soon to get back in the field aided by her team-mates. The Scott Contessa team car driver started waving frantically in front and then shouted to let the Matrix car past. Flavio wasn’t too impressed and ignored the request. That was until we got told by the commissaire on the radio to let Matrix back into position!

The flag was dropped and I got chatting to Flavio who was cooly driving with one hand on the wheel. I explained that we were now in God’s county (I was born in Hull) and he said how friendly and down to earth the people were in this area. I explained how Saskia hated hills so was going to be up against it with 3 climbs on each lap. Victoria had only been riding since last year and Flavio wanted to help her with her bunch riding and technical skills.
We soon hit the base of the first climb up a steep hillside and there were some stragglers appearing. Near the top Saskia popped out the back and we both shouted encouragement out to her as we had to pass to keep in the convoy. A group of 3 was only 50m ahead and we could see Saskia and another girl trying in vain to bridge the gap. We caught another group of girls could not get past. Others caught the cars and Flavio hit the horn hard to get the rest of the convoy to move to move to one side to let them past.
At the bottom of a descent Flavio was impressed with a rider’s skills as she came shooting through a narrow gap between the cars and verge.
A few miles later there was another massive climb which Flavio said his Garmin had told him was 1 in 5 in parts. After these two climbs the news came through on the race radio that a group including Victoria had escaped in front of the bunch in a group of 11. At 58 seconds gap Flavio was getting excited but frustrated by the fact that the commissaires would not let team cars into the gap. Eventually they said they would let cars through but asked the team Zappi car to stop back as neutral service. Flavios passion was starting to emerge and he said “Why me!?” A bit further on he decided to take action and waved car no.5 up beside him. After some discussion whilst driving alongside, car no.5 agreed to stop back leaving Flavio free to go forward. He soon agreed this with the commissaires and the mood improved. But next he questioned why some cars had not moved through and the retort was that they had not been precisely called through yet. But at last we were allowed by and the foot was flat down to get past the bunch before the road started to bend.
At the end of the lap the road wound its way up through the picturesque abbey grounds where spectators had gathered. Flavio saw a member of his club who was explained was his northernmost member and was in his kit. He slowed down (a little) to pass him a new Zappis jersey and on we went. Flavio passed me a breakfast bar and tried to make a phone call to “Steve” to put something on his website/facebook. On the downhill again we sped after the leaders but in front of the gruppetto. A car came in the opposite direction and an annoyed Flavio honked the horn and manoeuvred across in an apparent attempt to get the car to stop or move over or go into the verge or something. Two more cars followed and he repeated the actions with more intention. It was obvious that he thought the road was closed but I said I thought it was a rolling road closure. They must have got on the circuit via an un-marshalled side road. Any way it didn’t stop him pulling over at the next marshall to complain.
Back up the road the group was still away and on the steep hill we slowed to give a girl some jovial encouragement- she responded in kind with some good natured expletives! Back behind the bunch the matrix team were all off the back on the same climb and Flavio correctly identified that they had dropped back to help a rider. Sure enough they were soon behind us and catching the bunch up. In the same place again we met another oncoming car and Flavio showed off his Italian driving style again! We stopped again to complain to the same marshall that someone was going to get killed but he said it was an open road circuit and he could do nothing. Up front again with the leaders and Flavio explained that Victoria was wasting energy by riding in the wind beside the others who were in line.
On the last lap she was one of 3 riders who dropped off from the leaders on a hill and Flavio was up beside giving some encouragement in Italian and beeping his horn. However a quick instruction by the commissaire for him to leave them behind soon put a stop to that. But Victoria pushed and lead the group back to near the leaders with much horn beeping in encouragement and cries of “ Forza Forza Forza” from Flavio. But we were close to the finish now and we could see the leaders ahead as we followed the Victoria group. We were told to pull over with a kilo to go and missed a crash as a rider slipped off on a corner.
We jumped out near the finish to find our girls. Victoria finished a great 10th and Saskia had been pulled out with a lap to go. And so ended an educational and exciting 2hrs with Flavio.
So mad or just passionate? Definitely the passionate.
Someone told me afterwards about Flavios past and said “All sprinters are mad aren’t they?” But Flavio really cares for his cycling and for anyone who cares about cycling. That’s what he is about.
Same time next year Flavio? Thanks again.

Nick Hook<


August 2, 2013 Posted by | Training | Leave a comment

…and this is why I have been away for so long…

One week with Zappi’s Pro Cycling at their pre season training base.

I have just returned from spending a week living with the Zappi’s Pro Cycling team at their pre season training base in Tavira, near Faro in Portugal.

They have been there since January and will be based there until mid April when they will move to Italy for a few weeks before returning to the UK in June for the National Road Race and Premier Calendar series. I will give some additional information about races at the end of this piece.

I had little idea what to expect however I left with a feeling that something special is happening there.

When Flavio Zappi was starting out on his pro career he joined a team called Lema Mobili run by Domenico Garbelli in 1978. It was very disciplined and the whole team lived together with the boss. Out of 12 riders in the team 10 went on to sign professional contracts within 3 years. Flavio was one of these and he went on to wear the green jersey in the Giro d’Italia.  This is the model Flavio is now using for his team of riders who are aged between 18 to 25.

Whilst a guest I was expected to follow, (where physically possible!) the daily routine of the team. This starts at 7am with reveille, signaled by the tune whistled by Elle Driver in the movie “Kill Bill”  (originally the theme to “Twisted Nerve” written by Bernard Herrmann 1968) which is played on Flavio’s iphone as he walks around the accommodation.


07:15 sees the start of 30 minutes of Core Strength training lead by Jack Adams or maybe some Ashtanga Yoga lead by Jacob Loftus. Whilst this is going on Flavio and his wife Jayne will be preparing breakfast. (please see photo link further down for images)

There was unusually bad weather with rain and high winds during my week so training rides were timed to fit with any improved weather windows however usually after breakfast has been cleared away and washed up the plan for the day is discussed and the team prepare for the training ride. If all are fit this will normally be a 3 to 5 hour session. If anyone is recovering from an injury or illness then the ride will split in two with the latter maybe doing an easy 2- 3 hours.

It is beautiful riding in this part of Portugal. You can head north inland on quiet roads and almost immediately can be on a nice long undulating, twisting climb for 20 kms rising about 650 metres to a beautiful high plain. There is no shortage of good routes and often they accompany the local Pro Continental Team, Tavira-Carmin on their training rides. Flavio does the training rides with them, which he finds invaluable in terms of analyzing their progress.

On return to base the riders will cool their legs by standing in the unheated swimming pool for 20 minutes before showering and having food.  Then the bikes are completely checked over and cleaned ready for the next day. Laundry is also dealt with immediately.

Depending on how hard the ride has been there may be a walk on the beach or a yoga session in the afternoon. The last meal of the day will be eaten at 7pm and most are in bed before 10 pm.

The team consists of 8 riders who share 3 bedrooms. Cooking is done by Flavio and the chores of daily communal living are split up amongst the guys by rota. These consist of washing up, outside areas, inside areas and being Flavio’s assistant in the kitchen for food preparation and making food packs of brioche and figs for each of the riders to take on the training ride.

Food is an integral part of daily life and the training. Breakfast consists of homemade muesli, boiled eggs (yoke removed), bread, Jam, yogurt, fruit, juice and tea and coffee. Each member of the team is expected to eat exactly the same and nothing is allowed to be left. This seems fine for breakfast but more of a challenge for a couple of the team for other meals which consist mainly of local fresh fish, and occasionally chicken livers or roast chicken. One of the guys had never eaten fish before leaving for Portugal so this has been a big change of diet for him and the chicken livers well…. anyway nothing is allowed to be left on the plate! The fact is that they are usually starving anyway. Accompanying the main item there is always salad and often sweet potatoes, broccoli (raw), new potatoes and lots of beetroot. I have to say I found the food delicious although the treat Flavio announced that everyone deserved one night of sweet potato and cream lightly dusted with chocolate powder was more unusual.

The routine and discipline is the closest I have come to experiencing life when doing some basic training in the army in the early 80’s. It has some of the same sense of routine, purpose, “get on with it” approach whilst getting to know your team mates and but also the feeling that someone is really looking after everybody and everything – there is someone in charge and you are living together, as opposed to turning up at a club to do some training before going home to your family. It felt fundamental to the building of the team’s character. Flavio jokes that he has got 8 “children” to take care of out there but to a degree it is true. One of the guys was ill earlier in the year and it is Flavio who takes him off to get his blood tested and then goes back for the results, he is the one to massage a calf recovering from tendonitis. He is the one who makes sure noone is being “so lazy”, who gives a serious dressing down to all if standards are slipping. It felt good to see and be part of. I suspect there are not many young riders at this level who will have had the opportunity to live with their team mates and DS for pre season warm weather training and then the forthcoming race season. I suspect that this is most important to maintaining focus and discipline whilst at the same time being enjoyable.  One thing I am sure of is that the guys are experiencing something totally new to them.

Please see photographs at http://www.flickr.com/photos/williamcarey/sets/72157632974703883/

At the time of writing (14 March 2013) the racing is about to get more serious. Here is a flavour of it.

17th March Portuguese National called Classica Labmed [ 18 March Nikita came 3rd overall and Dan crashed when going well and broke collarbone]

20th March 5 day stage race is UCI 2.2 international Volta Ao Alentejo

The team are waiting for confirmation for the Giro del Friuli another UCI 2.2 international in Italy in early May but single day internationals (UCI 1.2) Circuito del Porto and Coppa Della Place are confirmed start of May and start of June. In preparation for the teams return to the UK for the National RR and Premier Calendar Series they have also confirmed entry into the French UCI 2.2 International stage race Tour de la Pays de Savoy.

Then it will be the UK scene with a rest the end of July before building into the second half of the season, races yet to be confirmed.

There are many more national level races in Spain, Italy, Swizterland and Belgium planned/confirmed which are good training races and stepping stones for development between the harder internationals. All the team riders have varied levels and therefore different individual goals but we always race to compete as a Team and as such riders will work to do a job when not capable of individual success.


Jack Adams

Danny Kelley

Jacob Loftus

Dimitri Paganoni

Sam Parker

Dan Pearson

James Ratcliffe

Nikita Zharoven

Flavio Zappi – DS

William Carey



July 1, 2013 Posted by | Training | Leave a comment

Buon Natale e Felice Anno Nuovo !!! with Graham Obree….

                                                    MERRY XMAS AND A HAPPY FAST NEW YEAR!!

This year we had to go to a new venue, as Mamma Mia my favourite place is not big enough to accomodate our xmas party,

hopefully next yean Jon (the owner of Mamma Mia) will have a bigger restaurant for us….

We had the most amazing evening, my all family was finally over there (after 2 years), my sponsors, my friends, my teams, a great guest speaker (Graham Obree) and most of all the club members…the Zappistas!!!


December 23, 2012 Posted by | Training | Leave a comment

Racing team 2013

Is this time of the year when lots of pieces are all over the tabel, like a puzzle but I’m getting there…

Sponsorship deals to finalize, car /van to get decal sorted, kit, Xmas party and bikes…

Car and van is this year  a bit more pro level…Image

…as finally I can afford to buy them rather than borrow them from my very nice and therefore grateful friends like Steve Avery and Duncan Mellish.. :)

This year racing team kit will have a different colour scheme…RED is the theme, for passion, power, love and …

Ferrari speed!!


So black follow red and white on the top for those summer sunny day where I want to keep the fresh to be able to attack on those hills…


Yes is a team of climbers with some of them on mix abilities…I want to get them were it matter…on the climb!

My plan is to get those light weight boys and give them the power they need but keeping the ideal weight …6 guys average weight 62.5kg…lets get the wattage now!

But the bike is what I’m so exiting about…the frame was tested by my self during this season…my “Volante” as said in Italian can fly and is also a power machine!


The main difference from “Freccia” is the rear end and a bit more aerodynamic…but the rear is where is not going to give anything back…only forward!

Stiff like a rock, ideal for ultimate performance…not good for the over 50 unless you have a very good core and back…my personal choice is still la Freccia as I like to have  a little more relax in the rear for my 6/7 hours sportives…never the less managed to win a crit and very good at short races.

But I wanted to be different and I spend time with a company that deals with F1 high quality decals, …yes decals!

Back in the 70s was normal and I want to take them back for 3 reasons:

1 The frame is paint less therefore lighter

2 If you scratch it you can replace and your frame will look great again

3 You can customize it


The frame comes as an aggressive black matt finish, but the you can choose the scheme you like…

You can start with black and red …our racing team colour and change during the season for some sunflower yellow and ride the in the summer  like the tour the france leader…


Anyway the team one is compatible with Zappi’s club colors …


And now time to build it…so as you can see if you match it with bar take, bottle cages, tyres and saddle the job is done…


Next the finish product.


December 16, 2012 Posted by | Training | Leave a comment


Hello guys,

finally here we are a new web site were we can go into details about what is about the Zappis family, I want to dedicate the blog for my stories and curiosity.

I’ve use the blog maybe a bit to messy for a lot of stuff, now I can really enjoy just write simple and personal experiences.

But please browse ny new web site and send me feed back so I can improve.

Enjoy      www.zappis.cc




October 27, 2012 Posted by | Training | Leave a comment

Zappi’s Gran Fondo (Sportive)

Hi guys,
I’me very proud to announce my very first Gran Fondo!
Will run over beautiful roads of the Cotswold and climbing the hard and impressive Fishill climb, option to do the 100km or 200km, come to Oxford and challenge yourself.
All info on:
See you Sunday September 16th

July 11, 2012 Posted by | BREAKING NEWS | Leave a comment

The story of “Coppa Bologna” in Montallese, Tuscany.

This is the story of the ” Coppa Bologna”


Giancarlo Di Balio is the author of a book that tell the story of this race, from 1929 the book has a great collection of photos from the many partipants and the great involvement of the people in Montallese in Tuscany.

This is the first winner Luniano Brinori


Giancarlo got in touch with me last year and with great surprise to me he said he wanted to write this book and he contatted all the winners of this race, therefore me.

I had mix feeling when he  called me, I felt proud and then melanconic…but then we chatted and with my surprise again ( and this is not the end), he told great riders won this race that started back in 1929 and guess what the greatest GINO BARTALI…


what an onour to share with one of the greatest champions of cycling.

But more surprises and more famous winner….



…and the late FRANCO BALLERINI


So here we are now with my photo after winning the 1980 edition in company of a good friend of mine Davide Cassani….


but after all the greatest surprise was the race I won in 1980 is actually on youtube on a very original video with lots of classic cars, flared trousers and thick side burns.

Hope you are going to enjoy….


March 9, 2012 Posted by | Training | Leave a comment

Zappi’s Cyling Club 2012 season XMAS PARTY

Hi cari Zappistas,

I’ve previously said the dinner party would be held on Monday the 9th of Jan, but made a mistake is actually the following week…so Monday the 16th of January at 7pm.

Mamma Mia restaurant and pizzeria will be the venue, Walton street in Jericho.

Menu will be very similar of last year with several starters coming to the each table from, baked mozzarella, crispy fried calamari and antipasti misti to share on the table and the same will be for the mains (pizza and pasta), with all different plates of pasta to taste and oven stone baked pizza sliced to taste more than one flavor.

a glass of wine or a bier included in the price with a slice of “torta” (Cake della casa) and espresso.

The price for the evening will be £20 all inclusive.

But the evening will have a surprise purpose and that is I will put a series of item to buy an auction for the ladies team and the boys team.

This are the item:

Size 56 aluminium frame “Brian Rourke” brand new made by Brian himself for Mohammed Ali and…. a Zappi’s new “freccia azzurra” any size.

Several other product and services will be available for a “deal of the night”, from fantastic mature Panaracer tubolars, SiS nutrition, Udo’s choice Oils, a week accommodation in Portugal training camp with Zappi’s Pro Cycling (subject to availability), VO2 max test at Dr R. Baskerville, full bike strip service from Duncan Mellish and Steve Avery our team mechanics, VIP table for 4 at Camera or Bridge night clubs with a bottle of champagne, etc.

Please book in advance to make sure you gat space as Mamma Mia can only hold 70 people.



January 1, 2012 Posted by | Training | Leave a comment

Academy Progetto Casa Ciclismo is back!!

Since coming back to cycling in 2008 I’ve gradually change my plan from just racing to coach…and now I’ve this idea to create an academy style team.

Back in 1979 I was part of a team called Lema mobili based near Bergamo north Italy, and the team was very famous to be the only one where rider were living in a house toghether for a season.

“La squadra” was very well-organized and 10 out 12 got professional contract within 1979 and 1981, 4 of us were racing with “azzurri” nat team.

More team followed the “Lema” style over the years, but our direttore sportivo Domenico Garbelli was something special, was living, train, dine and get to the races with us.
Was our surrogate father…very strict father.

Every morning he will check our weight and blood pressure and after breakfast follow us with the team car or the scooter.
Very often we would have a second training in the afternoon (just after a power nap), then dinner a bit of tv and then bed time…always at 9pm!
This is the presentation file to give a better idea on what the plan is for next year, just click on the open publication link:


Open publication – Free publishing – More cycling

Great news for anybody who are planning get some warm weather during January, February and March…Come and train with us!

We have a house in Algarve were the team is going to stay for very long winter training, and we have a spare twin room with bathroom.

The house we are staying is equipped with Sky tv, Internet, Sauna, Gym, Pool Table, Table Tennis and 10x5mt Outdoor Swimming pool.

We are renting to keen riders on a weekly basis and will be £225 per person (required two people) and that includes accommodation, Continental Breakfast, Evening Meal with the Team. Training with the Team and use of the facilities.

All you have to do is to take your bike and book a flight to Faro (Portugal) wich is only 19km away.

Priority will give to Club Members.

For info about availability just call me or email me :



And now delivery are coming from Campagnolo and the frame company….

Vison wheels T42, carbon clincher with alloy rim breaking and, great Slick Wredestein tyres only 180gr and lots of TPI for great rolling!!!

Duncan Mellish our team mechanic is working hard to get them in order before Xmas…

This one is Sam’s (Parker)…some more below…

The name is “Freccia Azzurra”… or the blue arrow and is after the…

La Freccia Nera!!, the black arrow!

Freccia nera as been my companion this year, were I’ve managed to compete at great level at sportives like the  Ardechiose in France (8 hours for 220km) and the Blenheim sportive with 4 hours and 43 minutes for 100miles, a bit worried at beginning because just coming back from a slipped disck few months before but, no problem for my back…

100 Mile Ride Results

also great on circuit 1 hour races like at the MK Bowl with sharp response out the corners and of course climbing wich is for the most important feature of my bike.

So the team will use this frame wich has been tested by Dr Sphend Gergury at Brookes Motor Engeneer Department and all season from myself in every possible competitive situation.

Ready to take on 2012 racing season!!

Calendar to follow….

Anyway more stuff arrived and….very very stiff!!!

Bont shoes, solid like a rock and light like feather…more is more!!!

Helmet, sunglasses from BBB and all into the racing bag…

and contract signing day is arrived with bikes and kit….

September 30, 2011 Posted by | Training | 2 Comments

I’m back!

Sorry….since last post few months ago few thing had happen.

Still not justifiable I know, but let me tell you what went on…

Had a nasty accident chasing down a moped on the road!

I always said to people not to do, and I did it…over 50 years old at 50 km an hour a few centimetres behind a motorbike, with a L plate on, how stupid that was!

Of course the guy on the bike got scared looking at his mirror this crazy man following at full speed…and he decide to slow down, very fast! Had no other option than slam my breaks and flying over my bike and crash on the tarmac.

Result was broken elbow, rotatory cuff tear (shoulder) and 5 cm deep cut on my face.

Got under surgery the very next day and back home few days after and forgot to say the bike had not a scratch!

Anyway back on the bike few weeks later and start training again, still have to save a bit of my racing season as I need to make sure I’m not loosing my Cat 2 licence after loosing my Cat 1 last year.

6 weeks after my surgery I’ve entered one of the most famous french sportive the Ardechoise with over 15000 participants and finish top 30 in the 220km event over 8hours of climbing and descending.

I’ve enjoyed so much that I’ve entered also the Anthony Maynard in Reading and the Blenheim Palace in Woodstock.

Finished the Reading one in 6hours and few minute for 195km and 4 hours 43min for the Blenheim on 166km, very pleased with that, I feel very comfortable with the long distance stuff…my age really likes easy and longer :)

But my things is still road racing, so I decide to make a deal with myself and entered for my birthday present a premier calendar race in Salisbury for the 28 of August, great to have a goal to aim for!

The premier calendar are the most prestigious road races in England and the field is the top in this country with Rapha, Motorpoint, Endura, etc racing.

I know a bit mad but I always been very strong on my birthday week and very ofter winner too, so I started training harder and race the proper races.

From the 15 on July to the 15 of August I’ve raced about 3 or 4 road races and same in crits, the plan was going well because I’ve used the crits for speed work and race at the w/end on the road for proper results, managed to get 90 point in 4 weeks (and I need 50 to retain the 2 category).

Unfortunately I’ve got my entry back a week prior to the event because the field is very strong and they had so many entries they have to make a selection base on the category.

Very, very disappointed but, I’ve made my decision and I’ll go for Cat 1 licence points now, I have only 1 month and I need to make another 110 points to make it, so next time they cannot refuse my entry.

Cat 1 points chasing started well and on the 27 of August I won my first race this year…again on my birthday week!! ;)

September 2, 2011 Posted by | Training | 1 Comment


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