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As the riders of the Giro d’Italia climbed the Monterovere towards the stage 17 finish line in Lavarone, they may have worried the accumulated altitude over three weeks of racing had finally got to them.
After the stage, won by Santiago Buitrago (Bahrain-Victorious) from the breakaway, the photographers upload the images taken throughout the day’s action, as usual. But it soon became clear it had been anything but a normal day out on the road.
One particular photo, amongst the usual fantastic shots of rider against mountain, showed the bizarre scene of a man dressed as a chef handing a pineapple to Davide Formolo.
We have some questions. Most obviously, what is a man dressed as a chef (or maybe he is a real chef?) doing up a mountain during a bike race? Why is he handing pineapples out to riders? And most curiously, why is Formolo accepting it?
The explanation of the pineapple is likely linked to the ongoing culture war between Mathieu van der Poel and the Italian people, the chef suits was perhaps a tongue-in-cheek addition to really sell the mountainside stunt.
Before long other images emerged. Dries De Bondt (Alpecin-Fenix) was sitting upright as he made his way up the climb, clutching a pineapple in one hand. Then, a video of his teammate Stefano Oldani off his bike, shouting down a megaphone.
What on earth has happened to the Giro d’Italia? With only days left to go until the final finish line in Verona, the race appeared to have completely lost its mind.
Luckily, photographer Daniele Molineris was on the mountain, snapping away and taking all the madness in.
“Yes it was a crazy moment,” he told CyclingTips. “I was walking up after the pictures at Belvedere. There was a chef who was trying to give the pineapple to some racers, but no one took it.”
“Then I saw Oldani with the megaphone (he took it from a man at the side of the road) and he was waiting for Davide Ballerini [Quick-Step AlphaVinyl] screaming in it. At a certain point, DeBont also appeared with the pineapple in his hand.”
“It was funny, and the funniest thing is they are both on the same team as Mathieu van der Poel who was up in the break on a climbing stage.”
It’s good to see that after a punishing few weeks of racing that riders still have a sense of humour and can take the time to enjoy themselves.
Whether De Bondt took the pineapple all the way to the finish and gave it to Van der Poel for him to put on his pizza that evening? I’m sure we’ll find out soon enough. And yes, for eagle-eyed readers who’d spotted the chef was wearing cycling shoes, he did ride up the mountain in the costume.