Tuesday, July 15, 2008

COBRA - Real Italian Anti-Hero

Ever since Ricardo Ricco burst on to the professional cycling scene, he has been known by the nickname “The Cobra.” While many journalists and fans have proposed theories about the origin of the moniker, little has been revealed by the rider himself until now. The true story may surprise you.

Most people assume that Ricco calls himself “The Cobra” because of his attacking style and reputation for venomous strikes aimed at opponents, both on and off the bike. But in fact, the reason behind the nickname has nothing to do with his tactics or personality, instead owing itself to his long term fascination with an American cartoon.

Ricardo Ricco never cared that G.I. Joe was a real American hero, as the theme song claims. When watching the cartoon as a young boy in Italy, he found himself identifying more with the terrorist Cobra Command Organization – especially their leader, Cobra Commander. It was not long before little Ricardo was running around with a blue hood on, screaming “Cobra!!!” at the top of lungs as he continually antagonized his fellow classmates.

When asked about his somewhat unhealthy obsession with such a villainous character, Ricco is quick to point out that Cobra Commander was simply misunderstood and pressured into global terrorism by the competitive culture of mid-80’s cartoons. The Italian climber responds similarly when asked about his fascination with Marco Pantani, although he adamantly stresses that he doesn’t believe Cobra Commander ever used EPO.

The sport of cycling has a number of individuals who have taken on nicknames associated with characters from children’s programs and cartoons such as David Rebellin (Tintin), Michael Rasmussen (The Chicken) and Manuel Beltran (Triki – a Spanish Cookie Monster) among others. While Ricco admits that his chosen moniker is not original in this sense, he firmly contends that “The Cobra” is better because “the bad guys are always way cooler than the good guys. I mean, why do you think I signed with Saunier-Duval?”

After acknowledging that the majority of the public mistakenly thinks he named himself after a snake, Ricco admits that he rarely corrects people anymore. “I originally started calling myself Cobra Commander, which pretty much kept things clear, but I thought that may have sounded a bit arrogant. And the last thing I want is to be seen as cocky. I mean, everyone already knows that I’m the best climber in the history of the world – so why should I need to include ‘Commander’ in there?”

“The Cobra is a good enough nickname for now. Maybe after a few more glorious victories in which I hypnotize the competition with my reptilian stare, the other riders and media will begin to refer to me as Cobra Commander anyway. In fact, I am certain they will. COBRA!!!”

While this last part remains to be seen, it seems clear that unless Garmin-Chipotle or Columbia signs Sgt. Slaughter or Snake Eyes in the offseason, The Cobra may be here to stay. Reports that Leonardo Piepoli is going to paint his head silver and start calling himself “Destro” have not been confirmed.


sebastian said...

speaking of sgt. slaughter, i vote for more g.i. joe / wwf / pro cycling cross-pollination. first up, bjarne riis as mr. fuji. "ah, the inscrutable one . . ."

Anonymous said...

I don't understand why Jens does not chase him down on a breakaway, give hime a Chuck Norris style roundhose kick, while grabbing a feed, and tell little Jr. to call the F@%! down!

I love guys who give themselves their own nickname.

CaliRado Cyclist said...

Yeah...me too Absolute Goose.

- The CaliRado Cyclist

I have always thought that nicknaming yourself was lame but then I realized I kind of did that with this blog. Oh well.

No one calls me CaliRado - but "Cali" was a nickname I got when I moved to Colorado in HS so I guess it's kind of legit.

None of the other nicknames people have given me are that good. Or suitable for printing in this format...

Anyway, I honestly can't tell if I like Ricco or hate him. I'm totally confused.

Physically, he reminds me a lot of my brother (who gets Cobra Commander credit) because they have similar body types and climb the same way - fast - so I like that.

And I actually do appreciate that he is confident enought to talk trash and back it up. I'm just not down with Saunier-Duval right now. Too much happening over there.

Barring any unforeseen issues, between Cobra and Cavo - the future of climbing and sprinting dominance looks to be a loud one.

Good/Bad? We shall see.

mhernandez said...

for me, he's just a bit too Riccoco. a bit too much flourish for my tastes. i'm a fan of the dramatic, maybe even the baroque ... but not when it gets too ornate, too shiny, too riccoco.

mhernandez said...

this post is hilarious. full stop, btw.
thanks again for the laughs.

sebastian said...

wow, my dad totally called that one half a week ago. "he'll test positive," he said, and i didn't believe him . . . let this be a lesson never to doubt ancient wisdom!

Anonymous said...

Well I see Mr. Rico has now decided to REALLY become like his idol the great Pantani. Let's hopw the young guy does not come to a terminable end so soon and tragic as the Pirate.

On the flip side, thanks for continueing what is now the annual tradition of screwing us all you Cobra meathead. You screwed us good!

CaliRado Cyclist said...

Dada or Dodo? Maybe Fauvism? Probably Realism.

This story is far from over.