‘I'm not sure he’ll be welcome at the Giro’ - Italian peloton reviews Remco Evenepoel’s ‘rainbow pizza’

World Champion's latest Pizza Hut stunt doesn't pass muster with the Italians at the Tour de France

Remco Evenepoel and his rainbow pizza
Remco Evenepoel and his rainbow pizza
(Image credit: Luc Claessen / Getty)

Italian food has established itself as the world’s favourite cuisine. But almost as popular as the food itself is the tradition of Italians being offended at other nation’s takes on it - it’s even spawned its own Twitter account.

A YouGov survey in 2022 found Italians horrified at practices like putting ketchup on pasta, putting pasta in cold water and then boiling it and, of course, putting pineapple on pizza.

Enter Remco Evenepoel. The Belgian World Champion has been an ambassador for restaurant chain Pizza Hut since 2021 and last week unveiled a special ‘rainbow pizza’ design in a move to shift units celebrate his cycling achievements. 

In the promotional video a smiling Evenepoel gleefully builds up ribbons of blue cheese, olives, sweetcorn and peppers to resemble the World Champions bands. Before turning to the camera saying: “It takes a long time to make. I had to get up at 6am to start cutting up the ingredients at quarter past.”

But did his efforts in the culinary realm match his cycling prowess? There was only one group fit to judge: the Italian’s of the peloton of the Tour de France.

Alberto Bettiol (EF Education-EasyPost) has an affinity for Evenpoel’s home country of Belgium as a classics specialist and winner of the Tour of Flanders, but he wasn’t impressed. “I think its better as a jersey than a pizza,” he said dryly. “Its got too many things on it.

“Personally I like a margherita,” he said before reeling of the key ingredients of his favourite mouth watering.

Would you order this at all? We wonder, even if it’s just out of curiosity. “No, no, no, no, definitely no. There’s sweetcorn, no no no that’s too much.”

TotalEnergies baroudeur Daniel Oss is of a similar opinion.“I don’t know,” he says in a wary tone. “I’m pretty classic, this has got too many things on it, you confuse the flavours.”

The ever upbeat Trentino native is keen to find the positives: “Maybe they’ll sell a lot of that I’m not in the business side.” Sadly, we have to report the rainbow pizza won’t be appearing on the Pizza Hut menu. Not even in Belgium.

“Maybe I would take a piece to taste, for Remco, but which side? As this will taste different from this,” Oss says, pointing at the dish, one half soaked in blue cheese the other covered almost entirely in crunchy pepper, his tone a mix of dismay and disgust.

But just when we think that this pizza is destined for a universal panning, Gianni Moscon at Astana gets enthusiastic. Peering into my phone screen to looks at the picture he lists off the ingredients: “Olives, tomatoes, corn, this is pepper… As long as there’s no pineapple it’s fine. I think it could work, it’s not too bad.”

Not that Moscon would order it in a hurry he’s a four season or capricciosa kind of guy who doesn't like to change much. So what would he give this concoction out of ten? He thinks for a moment: “Six”

Thats the best Evenepoel is getting. So we have to ask, will he be welcome in at the Giro d'Italia after this? “I’m not really sure, especially in Napoli. I don’t think it’s going to be accepted,” says Bettiol with a glint in his eye and his tongue in his cheek. “The cycling fans would maybe welcome him but Italians in general no.”

The destination of Evenepoel’s signature for 2024 is a subject of some hot debate but he had better hope that they want him to ride the Tour de France over the Giro d’Italia

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Having trained as a journalist at Cardiff University I spent eight years working as a business journalist covering everything from social care, to construction to the legal profession and riding my bike at the weekends and evenings. When a friend told me Cycling Weekly was looking for a news editor, I didn't give myself much chance of landing the role, but I did and joined the publication in 2016. Since then I've covered Tours de France, World Championships, hour records, spring classics and races in the Middle East. On top of that, since becoming features editor in 2017 I've also been lucky enough to get myself sent to ride my bike for magazine pieces in Portugal and across the UK. They've all been fun but I have an enduring passion for covering the national track championships. It might not be the most glamorous but it's got a real community feeling to it.