Where are winners made? In the womb? In school? On an altitude camp styled as an Italian remake of The Shining?
In the case of hotshot young British climber Mason Hollyman it could well be the latter. “Six of us spent three weeks in a couple of camper vans on top of a mountain that the Giro d’Italia had finished on the year before. All there was at the top of this mountain was just one half-abandoned hotel,” says the Yorkshireman recalling his first altitude camp experience in 2019. He then remembers: “Next to the hotel was a prison where Mussolini was imprisoned. It was a bit crazy.”
He was staying atop the Gran Sasso d’Italia, in case you want to book your own stay – CW cannot be held accountable for what a lot of work and no play will do to you there.
Luckily, Hollyman did not descend into seeing ghosts and brutally murdering his Holdsworth-Zappi team-mates and was just last week riding the Tour of Britain in the colours of Israel Start-Up Nation, having been called up from the squad’s academy outfit. At 21, he’s now considered one of British climbing’s brightest young prospects. When CW first meets Hollyman after the race’s second stage, his fresh face is streaked with dirt, giving it the appearance of a chimney sweep in a Disney movie rather than an axe-wielding Jack Torrance.
When we ask him how it has gone, he says: “It’s been a pleasure. For me, it’s really nice to see how these guys work, and just try to learn from them.”
The son of a keen cyclist father, he got into the sport as an eight-year-old riding with his family at the weekends. Before long he was riding with them in France, climbing mountains in the Alps and the Massif Central.
Within a few years he was racing on the junior scene. He began to be coached by ex-pro Dean Downing, who’d been asked to help the promising teenager by Kirklees Cycling Academy manager Darren Stringer. Downing recalls fondly Hollyman’s breakthrough year in 2018 when he won the junior series, including the Monmouthshire Grand Prix.
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
Would You Know What To Do? How To Be A Cycling First Responder
It’s every cyclist’s nightmare: someone in your group has crashed and it looks serious. How do you provide urgent, potentially life-saving assistance? Chris Marshall-Bell finds out
Tech editor Michelle Arthurs-Brennan's Custom Werking Anormale
An Italian beauty continues to inspire and gets treated to a sweet new makeover
Time lord Ganna makes it two
While van Aert rues a Worlds double of his own
WOMAN OF THE HOUR
Next week British time triallist Joss Lowden will attempt to set a new women’s Hour record. Vern Pitt finds out how she’s been preparing for it
Covid cost rise puts Canyon-dhb-Sungod future in doubt
Team manager tells Vern Pitt additional funds are needed to keep the squad at its current level
Askey lays down Worlds marker in Derby dirt
Groupama-FDJ rider wins opening round of cyclo-cross National Trophy in style
The Doc pays homage to the unsung heroes of British racing who could have set the Worlds alight had they only been given the chance
RIDING BRITAIN'S STEEPEST HILL
Deep in the heart of Wales, climbing nut Simon Warren thinks he has discovered Britain’s steepest hill. This is the story off how he found it and just how painful it is to ride
Road World Championships 22 August, 1948
The breakaway of the pro race rides through the streets of Valkenburg. This appears to have been taken around the midpoint of the race when the break had grown to nine riders.
Van Dijk makes spectacular return to rainbow glory
Lowden comes sixth on Worlds TT debut