In this week’s episode of The Cycling Podcast, Lionel Birnie travels to Bicester Village retail outlet, not to do his Christmas shopping but to meet former Italian pro rider Flavio Zappi.

After a calamitously clumsy introduction at the Rapha cafe (sorry again, chaps!), Lionel talks to Flavio about his career as a rider in the early 1980s when he finished second in the king of the mountains competition at the 1984 Giro d’Italia – a race he acknowledges as one of the flattest grand tours in modern history.

In the second half the conversation turns to why he moved to Oxfordshire 25 years ago, rediscovered his love of cycling to help kick a smoking habit and how he established a development team to set young riders on the path to the World Tour.

The best known graduate from Zappi’s team so far is James Knox who went via Team Wiggins to Quick Step and had a stunning breakthrough performance at the Vuelta a España this year.

We are also joined by Paul Quarterman, who is heavily involved in Zappi’s team and whose son Charlie will ride for Trek-Segafredo with Vincenzo Nibali and new world champion Mads Pedersen next year.

The YouTube clip of the 1984 Milan-Sanremo Flavio referenced can be viewed here (Italian commentary).

This episode is supported by Laka, the community of cyclists co-operating to insure their bikes and equipment and keeping premiums down. To check out Laka go to their website at

We’ve improved our Friends of the Podcast system so it is now much easier to sign up and access the special episodes using your favourite podcasts app. We’ve frozen the subscription fee too – it’s still £15 for the year – and we’ll be releasing 15 episodes over the course of 2020. Episode one is already online, it looks at the dramatically truncated 19th stage of the Tour de France and features Egan Bernal and the voice of Radio Tour, Seb Piquet. Sign up now at

Our new book, The Grand Tour Diaries, which covers the 2018 and 2019 seasons is available now at our website,

We are often asked about the music in our shows. The title music in our regular episodes is called This Is The Last Day Of Your Life by Glass Pear. There’s a Spotify playlist featuring some of the music heard in The Cycling Podcast here.