First things first, let me get some caveats out of the way. I am not, shockingly I know, a music journalist, let alone some kind of critic. Sometimes I barely think I'm a cycling journalist, but that's enough introspection for now.
Secondly, it is clear from the outset that Pieter Serry and I do not share a music taste. The Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl rider is 33-years-old and from East Flanders, while I'm from Southampton and incredibly young at just 26. It is unlikely we have ever been at the same gig. I favour indie music from 2009, while as we will see, Serry is much more into house.
On Wednesday morning the Belgian team tweeted that Serry is "the guy everyone should want as a bus DJ during a Grand Tour, as he always knows what songs to pick to create a great atmosphere".
"If you don’t believe us, just explore his #Giro playlist," the team said. Well, that was a challenge I could not refuse.
As the Giro d'Italia heads inland from the Adriatic coast on stage 11, on what might well be a reasonably dull stage - there are just 369 metres of climbing - it is the perfect time to take a look at what they listen to on the Quick-Step bus.
There are 13 tunes on the playlist (opens in new tab), which might well prove a bad omen, but I'm not going to prejudge it. Here we go then, a dive inside the mind of Serry.
The Wolfpack Anthem - Intro by ID
The playlist starts off with the sound of a freehub spinning, a noise that the Quick-Step riders must be sick of after ten days at the Giro. This must be a song specifically designed for the team, "The Wolfpack" being the nickname given to the squad by themselves.
You hear it a lot in interviews, so this identity must be something the riders buy into. You can get all kinds of merch with the wolf logo on, but who knew they had a specially designed anthem. It isn't much of an anthem for me, but it does give a lovely taste of things to come. The only lyric is "wolfpack", which is interesting. Maybe the team listen to this ahead of every stage, but I'm not sure it would pump me up.
Power of the Wolfpack by Frequencerz and Villain
Second song, second reference to the Wolfpack. I think there might be a theme here. This one also must be made for the team, but who knows. It comes from Dutch "hardstyle duo" Niels Koster and Pepijn Hol and Dutch DJ Villain. Disappointingly, not Belgian.
This banger opens with the line: "I'm not going to sit here and tell you that life is going to be rainbows and happy days, it's not going to be that way." Someone needs to tell Julian Alaphilippe that life is not just rainbows, something the twice-consecutive world champion might disagree with.
"The road you are about to walk is hard, but the hardest walks lead to the greatest destinations," it continues. "The toughest climbs always lead to the best views." Maybe Serry thinks this when climbing some of the difficult mountains that form the Giro route.
It is a bad song, objectively. I guess you could jump up and down to a rave at this?
Somebody Like Me (Mark With a K Remix) by Xillions and Mark With a K
The first song that doesn't reference Quick-Step's own branding, with this hard dance track from a collaboration between Xillions and Mark With a K.
What happened to Marc With a C is unknown, but the Belgian has made a song that is at least catchy. Again, not my kind of thing, especially while stone-cold sober, but it is an improvement on Serry's other options so far.
This being a remix, there must be an original out there for me to delight in later, but sadly I do not have time to deal with that for now.
Somebody To Love by Mark With a K and Natalia
I actually recognise this one? My amateur ears can't pick out where the sample in this song is from, but it is definitely the best one yet, thanks to that. Sadly, it isn't Somebody To Love by Queen, but I supposed that would disrupt the flow of this playlist, which is all about heavy bass.
This one would probably get me a bit perked up before a stage, which I suppose is the point of this playlist? A bit repetitive though. I have pretty much had enough with our old friend Mark With a K now though. It's only 2:32 though, so you don't have to put up with it for long.
Bonzai Channel One - Original Mix by Thunderball
It is about this point in the playlist that I wondered what I had let myself in for. If mine and Pieter Serry's tastes in music are this far apart, I wonder what interests we would actually share.
He's actually near the front of the peloton right now, controlling the race for Quick-Step. The pace is so relaxed I could probably fly to Italy and ask him what he thinks he's doing before the bunch finish.
This track is bad. It's actively annoying. Next.
In My Mind by Dynoro and Gigi D'Agostino
I lost faith in this piece during the last song, but this one is OK. It's a cover of a track by Ivan Gough and Feenixpawl (unrelated to Alpecin-Fenix) by Lithuanian DJ Dynoro and Italian DJ Gigi D'Agostino.
It's chilled compared to the playlist so far, and is perfectly listenable, without blowing me away. Look, I'm not going to listen to it in my free time, but I actively didn't mind it. Congratulations to the pan-European pair for getting me back on board with the mixtape.
However, this one doesn't strike me as a good pre-stage song, so maybe it's one for the bus on the way back to the hotel.
Losing It by FISHER
My mate Laura, who's an actual DJ, texts: "One of the worst things to happen to modern music."
I wouldn't go quite that far, it's no All Summer Long by Kid Rock, but it's not a great track. Nothing really happens in it, it's just classic repetitive EDM. It's so boring, in fact, that I have nothing to say about it. Sorry Pieter, and sorry FISHER.
How Much Is The Fish? by Scooter
This is the part of the playlist that is strangely aquatic themed. After a track by FISHER we have a song about the price of fish, obviously. Maybe Serry is a pescatarian.
It opens with the line "the chase is better than the catch", which isn't necessarily true of the work Serry does for Quick-Step. One feels that chasing down the break is actually the worst bit of the day, and the catch is the good bit. Maybe I'm taking this too literally.
Scooter are actually big, I've heard of them, and their remix of The Logical Song is one of those songs that I'm sure meant a lot in the 1990s. They sold over 30 million records! What!
The thing I'm actually learning through this playlist is that there's more to music than indie music, and that makes me uncomfortable.
Hardcore Vibes by Dune and Droning
"This song is dedicated to all the ravers in the nation", apparently. Lucky you, if you're one of them. I'm not part of the rave scene, which you would never have guessed from looking at me, but maybe Pieter Serry is? Probably in the off-season, though, right?
Something about hardcore vibes. Do Quick-Step have hardcore vibes? I don't really know what that means, so I'm going to say no. It's over pretty quickly, but that's about it in terms of music criticism for this one I'm afraid.
Freaks by Timmy Trumpet and Savage
You will never guess what, there's more bass! I hope the Quick-Step bus has an adequate sub-woofer to really get the most out of this track. According to the lyrics, the tune makes the speakers go to war. And the trumpet brings the freaks out to the floor? Or something. There's some kind of tuba solo in the middle of this too, it's strange.
I don't know who the freaks the song is referring to are, I'm assuming they're not the riders. I guess Mark Cavendish is a freak in a way, with 160 wins across his career, but there isn't usually a trumpet involved in his victories.
I had heard this one before, so I guess there must be positives for that? I would really like to introduce Pieter Serry to an instrument called the guitar, however.
Renaissance of Rave by Sub Zero Project
Now we are getting somewhere, is that Handel I can hear? It is indeed, the track taking much of its cues from the German composer's Suite in D Minor, but with more synthesiser sound and less clarinet.
It doesn't get much more exciting than that, with some classic meaningless Europop lyrics from the Dutch duo Thomas Velderman and Nigel Coppen. Is there a renaissance of rave? Readers, please let me know if we're going through a rebirth. If we aren't, then this track is clearly lying to me.
It's pretty repetitive, but there is that classic fast jumping-around element to this one, which I guess could get me ready for a 200km race?
Polizei by Jebroer
We return to the Netherlands for this track about the police. However, this one is actually in Dutch, so I have no idea if it's saying 'thanks to boys in blue' or ACAB. Apologies for that.
Unlike other great songs about the police, like NWA's offering, I can't see this going down in history, but maybe it is absolutely huge in the low countries, who am I to say.
I did not enjoy this one, I think it's fair to say. It opens with the kind of beat that I fear, and have not really experienced since going to some pretty terrible clubs as a student. Not for me.
Flitsmeister by Jebroer and Outsiders
We end our musical odyssey with a song about a flash master. I don't know what one of those is, but a cursory Google tells me Flitsmeister is "a Dutch mobile app that warns its users of speed cameras and other traffic obstacles". Look, if that's what this track is about, then I absolutely love it.
I'm assuming it can't be about a speed camera app, but there is a bit where Jebroer definitely says something about ambulances, so I really don't know.
Jebroer, real name Timothy Kenman, is a Dutch rapper who has had hits before, so he must be semi-popular in the Netherlands. His moniker translates as "your brother". Does your brother make semi-OK hip hop? If so, this might be him.
I thought it was fine, there's a piano bit which was bearable. Perfectly fine. To be honest though, I'm never going to listen to any of this music ever again unless I have to, or I don't realise I'm listening to it. Sorry Pieter Serry, you have failed to convert me to your tastes.
Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription
Join now for unlimited access
Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1