Frankie the parrot rubs shoulders with Astana rider - literally

Astana rider Michele Scarponi has posted a video of himself out on a training ride with a rather unusual companion - a parrot perched on his shoulder with its plumage matching his team colours.

Towards the end of the video, shot in Scarponi's birthplace of Filottrano in Italy's Marche region, the female blue and yellow macaw, called Frankie, pecks playfully at his helmet, prompting the rider to tell her to "stop it!"

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Frankie, aged two, is something of a local celebrity and last year hit the headlines after she went missing for several days.

When she was returned to her owner, Giacomo Luchetta, whom she believes is her mother, he said "she's well and wants lots of cuddles." 

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It's not the first time Frankie has joined 2011 Giro d'Italia champion Scarponi for a ride; here's a picture he took of her in February last year.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.