British youngster Mason Hollyman, Israel Cycling Academy’s team leader in the Giro d’Italia for U-23 riders, completed the first four days of racing well. Today, after the rest day, he looks back on leading the Israeli Continental team in a successful Giro and looks forward to the three interesting stages yet to come.

The highlight of ICA’s trip to Italy for the Giro Giovani, the most important stage race for U-23 riders in the world, was Riley Pickrell’s win in stage 4. “An amazing day”, Hollyman confirms. “Once he survived that climb, Edo Goldstein and I knew he would have a good chance. We brought him to the front, and then Pickrell rounded it off with class. Our Giro Giovani is already a success, with three more stages to come.”

One by one

Hollyman himself was targeting the “incredibly hard” third stage of the “Baby Giro”. The 177 km stage, excluding the nearly sixteen kilometers of neutralization, featuring one of the steepest sides of the Passo di Mortirolo halfway into the stage, was a big challenge. The riders had to overcome more than 5000 meters of elevation. Unsurprisingly, the riders came across the finish line one by one.

The cyclist who was born in Huddersfield came across the line in twelfth position, seven minutes and 29 seconds behind the lone leader and fellow countryman Leo Hayter. “What [Hayter] showed so far this week is remarkable. He wins two stages solo and not only by a few seconds – he was far ahead of the bunch, and it will be hard to race him out of the leader’s jersey.”, the British younger with a professional contract in the pocket for season 2023 says.

Onto the WorldTour next year

Hollyman, who did an Everesting challenge in 2020, moves up next year with his Academy friends Marco Frigo and Derek Gee. Frigo was supposed to race in the Giro U-23 as well, however, the Italian youngster is suffering a wrist injury. Meanwhile, Gee is too old to compete in the Gio Giovani.

It was not a difficult decision for Hollyman when the team came up with an offer to turn professional. “I am happy here, and I am also happily living in Girona, the team’s home base. Climbing the ranks in Israel – Premier Tech is, therefore, a dream come true.”

“The opportunities the team gave me this season, for instance going on a training camp with my childhood hero Chris Froome, was amazing. Also, in general, I enjoy the environment on this team. It is professional and everyone takes their job in the team seriously, while there is also always space for laughs and smiles.”

Not his first Baby Giro

Even though a professional contract is signed, Academy’s team leader still wants to shine in the Baby Giro. It is a race that he knows very well.

In 2019, he finished twentieth in the general classification with the Holdsworth-Zappi squad that is based in Italy and is also racing in the Giro Giovani this year. One year later, he tried to improve his GC result, but a crash in the second stage dashed his GC hopes.

As Israel Cycling Academy did not participate last year, he is committed to bringing this year’s Giro to success. “I can do better than that top-20 from a few years ago”, the Brit says. “I got older, stronger, and more experienced over time.”

‘The GC is still the goal’

After the rest day and that challenging stage 3, Hollyman is now placed eleventh in the general classification of the most important race for teams with U-23 riders in the world.

“It was not the best day for average legs”, Hollyman said after stage 3. “I gave everything I had that day, but I just could not give more. I popped on the mountaintop finish and lost a bit more time, however, I am still in the game for a good result in the GC.”

“Together with my teammates, I hope to get that top-10 in the general classification here. Their support has been great so far and I still feel good.”

The morale in the team has been great so far and got another massive boost after Pickrell’s success in stage 4. “I must admit, his stage win is very inspiring.”

A few more chances

Hollyman himself, who scored his first professional victory last year with ICA in the Volta a Portugal, will get a few more chances this race. There is a long mountaintop finish in stage 6 and stage 7 is one for puncheurs.

“There are some very challenging stages to come, stages that suit me well on paper. I hope to pull something off for the team.”