Having spent their careers under the glare of the spotlight and the media, professional cyclists are used to performing on camera. But as this disparate set of videos demonstrates, poise on the bike and in front of the press aren't natural training grounds for a career in music. Don't give up your day jobs, gentlemen.
GreenEdge - I Won't Back Down (2012)
The newly-formed Australian team decided to announce their arrival onto the WorldTour by collaborating with the renowned Australian singer-songwriter Russell Morris on this cover version of the Tom Petty hit I Won't Back Down.
Morris used his fabled songwriting skills to make some jaw-dropping tweaks to the lyrics, leaving all those who listen to it open-mouthed. Imaginatively, this GreenEdge version includes the altered line "We will ride you down, and we won't back down."
Compared to some of the other videos on this list, it actually sounds pretty good. Morris does a decent impression of Petty, but the footage of the riders providing the backing vocals in the studio is slightly cringeworthy and prompts comparisons to some past musical efforts by English soccer teams. And that's not a good thing.
Marco Pantani - E Adesso Pedala (1996)
Marco Pantani did a great many things in his turbulent career. He conquered mountains, he won hearts, he broke bones, he dropped Indurain, he courted controversy. And, to quote the immortal words of Gary Imlach, he put the capital C into Italian rap.
Though sidelined with a broken leg, broadcaster Mediaset was still desperate to have Pantani on Italian screens at the 1996 Giro d’Italia. Their solution? Rope him in to deliver an even ropier rap which served as the theme tune for that year’s coverage.
As well as serving as technicolor proof that not every Italian is blessed with innate fashion sense, the clip also offers a rather poignant reminder of Pantani’s place in the affections of the general public at the time. To put it in context – Ivan Basso missed the 2011 Giro, but did it cross anyone’s mind to ask him to beatbox his love for the race? Exactly.
Erwann Mentheour - Dieu Est Mort (2004)
The incomparable Frenchman turned to music following the end of a controversial cycling career, which will forever be defined by his failed haematocrit test at Paris-Nice in 1997. Mentheour subsequently wrote a book about doping and then reinvented himself as an angst-ridden poster boy and rock star, releasing his first album in 2004.
That record included this song, the optimistically-titled Dieu Est Mort (God Is Dead) - a nod to the notoriously gloomy German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, who famously coined the phrase.
Mentheour and his band jam away in the shadow of a skyscraper and serve up his observations about corruption, greedy politicians, the horrors of war, the failing economy and our destruction of the environment. Not exactly one to get you in a party mood.
Coppi, Bartali, Magni and the stars of the Giro d’Italia – Totò al Giro (1948)
Cycling truly was box office in Italy in the post-war period, as proved when the nation’s favourite comic Totò shared top billing with the stars of the peloton for his 1948 film, “Totò at the Giro d’Italia.” Fausto Coppi, Gino Bartali, Louison Bobet, Ferdi Kubler, Briek Schotte and Fiorenzo Magni were among the riders who immortalised the Giro on the silver screen.
When the woman of Totò’s dreams refuses to marry him unless he wins the Giro, he makes a pact with the devil to secure the pink jersey. Once the race begins, he soon finds himself romping clear of Coppi et al and dominating the Giro with alarming unease, not unlike… er, maybe best not to say. Realising the error of his ways, however, our hero thwarts Beelzebub and withdraws before the finish.
In the climactic scene, the riders break into song in a bid to find out the final result from Totò, with Coppi, Bartali and Magni leading the inquisition. While Totò sings a paean to the magic of the maglia rosa, we never quite discover who did win the Giro. 64 years on, reports of failed random dub controls after filming remain unconfirmed.
Dave Zabriskie - Rollin' On A Garmin (2011)
Zabriskie has a long-standing reputation as one of the peloton's off-road jokers and can regularly be seen bursting into post-race song. He lived up to his billing at Garmin-Barracuda's team presentation in Colorado at the end of last year, serenading his teammates and staff with his own take on Creedence Clearwater Revival's Rollin' On A River.
The reaction was mixed. As you'll see from the video there were as many smiles as shaking heads, as Zabriskie sings about experiencing "pain in the south of Spain" in his own unique style.
Quite what the team's new signings made of all this is up for debate. But in his favour is the fact that Zabriskie has never taken himself too seriously in these situations. Good job really.
Petacchi, Bettini, Visconti with Memo Remigi – Varese Va’ (2008)
No expense was spared in the organisation of the 2008 world championships in Varese. Except when it came to the official song, the imaginatively-titled “Go Varese!”
Sung by crooner Remi Merigi with a little help from his friends in the Italian gruppo, the jaunty number extols the numerous virtues of Varese. “Here, you breathe pure air and liberty,” he sings. “A splendid, perfect garden city, a great love and a bicycle – Varese va’.” Quite.
Rainbow jersey Paolo Bettini and Italian champion Giovanni Visconti throw themselves into the song with rather disarming gusto, surely not realising that the video would be released into the public domain. Luca Paolini looks suitably embarrassed, while a sheepish Alessandro Petacchi mimes with all the enthusiasm of a man forced to comply as part of mandatory community service.
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