‘Sorry, I fell asleep, I need my afternoon nap after one of Flavio’s training sessions – a 90 minute chain gang then six laps of a circuit with a steep ‘kicker’ in it.’ That was Hamish Strachan explaining to us why he’d missed our call – good to hear that the young man is back in the groove after a difficult start to his year.
We were looking at the result of the u23 Trofeo Piva in Italy, recently to see how Flavio Zappi’s boys had done when a name caught our eye; in 11th spot was a certain Mason Hollyman [Israel Cycling Academy] with a little union jack beside his name. Best ‘have a word’ with the 20 year-old gentleman from the rugby Heartlands around Huddersfield and Wakefield, we thought to ourselves.
Flavio Zappi’s boys are in full effect in la Bella Italia and Scotsman Calum Johnston is turning the pedals in anger in Espana and the man who won the Memorial Zumzarren in Estella-Lizarra, Navarre, Northern Spain where Calum finished 14th recently, was an Englishman; 21 year-old Toby Perry from Ashford in Kent, by name.
Seven years ago, in 2014, we interviewed Matthias Barnet, he had just won the 2014 British u16 Criterium Championship on the technical Hog Hill circuit at Redbridge, London. Since then we’ve not heard much of the man but when we spotted that he had signed up with Flavio Zappi’s squadra for season 2021 – along with fellow Scott, Hamish Strachan, who we spoke to recently – we just had to have a word with him.
You may have read our recent interview with Senor Flavio Zappi here on VeloVeritas? This season the Zappi Racing Team will have strong Scottish representation with Messrs. Hamish Strachan and Matthias Barnett quitting Bonnie but chilly Scotland and the brooding, icy waters of the North Sea for La Bella Italia and the more benign waters of the Adriatico.
Flavio Zappi plays down his own career on the bike but in a time and place where it was hard to get a pro contract and then sometimes even harder to achieve contract renewal after one season, if the results weren’t there or your face didn’t fit, he rode numerous seasons at the highest levels of Italian cycle sport.
We didn't get to very many races in 2020 due of course to the Covid-19 pandemic, and the clear memory of this year is of everyone simply trying to do their best to get through this awful situation. Even when riders were locked-down they were finding ingenious ways and methods to keep fit and maintain that hard-won condition, but with constant uncertainty around dates for a return to competition, it was a difficult balancing act.
The ‘Giro Ciclistico d’Italia’ (or ‘Baby Giro’ as it’s popularly known) along with the Tour de l’Avenir and Giro Ciclistico della Valle d’Aosta, is one of the most important stage races in terms of a u23 rider wishing to ‘step up’ to a pro continental or World Tour team. In a sterling 12th overall in this tough race was Scotland’s own Calum Johnston riding for the Holdsworth Zappi Team.
It’s a wee while since last we spoke to Scottish ‘Zappi Man’ Calum Johnston who’s out there in Bella Italia, chasing the dream - but when we heard he was stuck on a volcano in Sicily we just had to learn more.
Paul Double raced with his Italian Colpack team, one of Italy’s strongest continental teams, and yet here he was on Dartmoor securing the silver medal in the British Hill Climb Championship. We heard the story...