Q & A: Mason Hollyman (Holdsworth Zappi)

The first Q & A for 2020 is with Yorkshire’s Mason Hollyman who rides for Holdsworth Zappi and is based in Italy during the race season and who’s 2020 goals are the Baby Giro, Avenir and Road Worlds

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Q & A: Mason Hollyman (Holdsworth Zappi)

– Where are you from and where are you based when racing for the team?
Mason: My family home is in a small village called Emley, near Huddersfield. During the racing season, I am based in Italy. Last year, we spent the first half of the season in a place called Cervia which is near the country San Marino. Then for the second half of the season, we were based in Tradate which is north of Milan.

– How did you come to ride for Holdsworth Zappi?
Mason: After some strong results as a first year Junior, I had some interest from the team and sent in an application form. The same year, I also guest rode at the Junior Tour of the Basque Country where I think I impressed finishing in the top 15 on GC. My application was successful and I moved to the team for my final year in the Junior ranks and have stayed with the team ever since. I feel it’s an ideal place for me to develop as a rider on and off the bike. Also, the races are well suited to my strengths.

– In what way is Flavio an inspiration to the riders?
Mason: Flavio was a great cyclist himself and he raced at the highest level and knows what it takes to get to the top of the sport. Flavio has also taught us that things can change very quickly in a race and bad legs at the start don’t always mean bad legs at the end. Flavio also instils in us that if you want something enough, you can get there with hard work and dedication.

– Was the Baby Giro the highlight of the season?
Mason: Personally, yes. For me, the Giro was the biggest race of the year. Along with it being my main target, it was a special race to be part of and the biggest for sure due to the quality of the field and the amount of planning which you could tell had been put in by the organises with the parcours and the amount of spectators turning up to watch.

Racing over mountains that I’d watched my idols race over on TV whilst being followed by a helicopter was pretty special. Finishing in the top 20 was a result I was happy with for my first Under 23 stage race.

– Is the racing in the Baby Giro different to other races you do with the team?
Mason: For me, the general feeling whilst racing felt reasonably similar due to racing half a year in Italy before this. What made it different was the amount of days racing with it being over double the length of any stage race that I had done before and also constantly having to think about the next day after each stage. I could tell with it being a stage race, it was very nervous in the first few days with everyone trying to keep out of trouble. You could tell how important the race was to each team.

– What was the best stage for you during the race?
Mason: I’d say my best stage was stage 4 in Tuscany. This stage was one of the Queen stages with it being 140km and over 3500m of climbing, and it was constantly up or down finishing at the top of Mt Amiata. I finished 14th, two minutes behind the stage winner and eventual race winner.

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– When did your 2019 season begin?
Mason: I did a few races in Spain which were used as training races in February before starting my proper season late March in Italy at an Italian National.

– What other highlights were there for you in 2019?
Mason: A few other highlights for me were 12th at the GP Palio del Recioto, 16th at Trofeo Piva, 18th at Trofeo Alcide Degasperi; UCI races. Eighth too at the Monte Urano, an Elite Italian National event, winning the young riders competition.

– What race was the most fun to do in 2019?
Mason: There were two races which I found the most fun. The first one being Monte Urano because it was one of the races which my legs were good enough to be right up at the front of the race attacking for the win in the final few KM’s. The other being the Giro with the scenery racing over mountain passes and the prestige of the race.

– What is the favourite race in Europe you have done or want to do but haven’t yet?
Mason: I think the Giro will take some beating but I would love to race the Tour de l’Avenir or the Worlds in Switzerland. Both of them are among the biggest Under 23 races in the world.

– How do you get from race to race with them being around Europe and is the travel the hardest part of racing in Europe?
Mason: For pretty much all of the races, it would just be within a driving distance as we stayed in Italy all year. For me, the travel is quite easy as we all have a good laugh in the car usually finishing with Karaoke.

– Do you get a free role in races or does the team have a structure of leaders and helpers (domestiques)?
Mason: Each race is different depending on the particular race and riders current form. This is sorted out by Flavio and Callum leading into it. But things can change in races as I had joint leadership going into the Giro but after a few stages I was the main protected rider whereas in Valle d’Aosta, the role was reversed so I ended up being a domestique for a teammate.

– How big are the pelotons in your races?
Mason: Most races range from around 150 to 200 riders so field sizes are pretty big.

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– Do you race exclusively on the continent or in Britain as well?
Mason: This year, I raced mostly all on the continent, only competing in one circuit race when being home but next year I plan to race in the UK more when home for longer periods of time.

– Was there one thing you learned in 2019 that stands out?
Mason: There were a few things that I learned in 2019. The first being always having a positive mind when racing or leading into a race is very important. Also having a refreshed mind is something which I find works well.

– What are your aims for the 2020 season?
Mason: My aims for this season are the hard one day races around April time leading into the Giro, that being my big focus. I also hope to ride either l’Avenir or the World Champs in Switzerland as they are both races that suit me well.

– When will you start racing in 2020?
Mason: My season will probably start late February

– When did you start training for the 2020 season and was that in UK or abroad?
Mason: After my off season, I kicked off my winter training early November at home in the UK as I enjoy being with friends and family due to being away for a large part of the year.

– Finally, to get to where you are now, who are the people/sponsors who have helped most?
Mason: Firstly the bank of mum and dad who have supported me through the years along with the rest of my family (one being my Grandad being my personal taxi driver too and from many airports).

Flavio who has always believed in me and has given me this great opportunity, Dean Downing who has been my coach for the last few years and helped me to get to where I am today. Also Darren Stringer (KCA) who managed my youth team and has continued to support me since I started racing. Finally Pedal Potential who have supported me for the 2018/19 seasons. Without these people it would’ve been a lot harder.

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