Some Brothers, Do ‘Ave Em
Brothers racing together on the same team isn’t as rare as it once was. From the Sagan’s to the Schleck’s to the Yates brothers it seems like that everywhere you look, brothers on bikes are popping up. Tom and Leon Mazzone are brothers from the Isle of Man. Separated by 3 calendar years and for the last few seasons by Leon racing on the continent. We’ve brought them back together again to ride for Holdsworth Pro Racing. They’ll be wearing the distinctive Orange and Blue Holdsworth Campagnolo team colours for 2018 and we expect big things from them.
Q. Have you raced on the same team before?
Tom: Only really on the national team. We’ve raced together twice this year, in the Ras Mumhan and Suir Valley but I’m looking forward to racing together more this season, with Holdsworth Campagnolo and also in the Commonwealth Games riding for the Isle of Man team in April.
Leon and Tom rode the Ras Mumhan, a prestigious four-day stage race in the south of Ireland, where Leon gave his elder sibling the perfect lead-out to win the opening stage and go into yellow. Tom was sixth on stage two with Leon fourth, going into the 155km ’Queen Stage’ on day three, where Leon took the lead in the U23s white jersey competition with fifth place on the stage, which he went on to win overall. Tom, second on the final stage also clinched second overall on GC.
Q. How did you get into cycling?
Leon: I started with BMX at my local club, pretty much as soon as I could ride a bike. By the age of 12, I was racing MTB and Road and I eventually ended up fully focussed on the road.
My first major win was the Mayo Youth Tour in Ireland, in my final year as an Under 16. I then won a Bronze medal at the 2013 Island Games in Bermuda, which was a big achievement for me, as a first-year junior. It was a tough season but I learnt a lot and picked up some solid results along the way, including a 3rd on the final stage of the Isle of Man Junior Tour and 5th Overall.
In 2014 I ended my season in Belgium to test the water of what it would be like racing on the continent. I got a 2nd and a 9th from two races, as you can imagine, I was keen to return. In 2015, I then moved to Belgium, racing as a U23, and continued to do so in 2016 and 2017. It served me well, we had a good squad and competed in a broad spread of races, from Interclubs to Pro Kermesses. I only travelled home for the Manx International, which also doubled up as the National Championship, where I placed 8th in the U23 ranking.
Q. How do you feel about riding for a UCI Continental Team and returning to race in the UK with Holdsworth Campagnolo?
Leon: Holdsworth is such a classic brand, it’s natural that they’d focus on the UK and I’m happy to be back in the UK, it’s an opportunity I’m looking forward too. Belguim is a lot flatter than much of the UK so I’ll have to adapt to that in the short term but I climbed pretty well as a junior and in the Nationals, so I’m sure it won’t take too long to find my climbing legs again, ready to race. The biggest change for me will be having a real team captain to look at for guidance, there are not many riders with the results Russ has, so it’s going to be a great experience racing alongside him.
Q. How do you feel about riding for Holdsworth Tom?
Tom: I’m really looking forward to it. We have a very talented team, all with a good variety of strengths, along with some exciting young riders in Leon and the Irish lads for example, with the guidance from Russ as Road Captain and Dean as DS and Performance Coach it only makes for a great combination. We’re already working with Dean on our training and beginning to plan our race program for the year ahead, with some exciting one day and stage races in the pipeline. It’s already shaping up to be a big year for myself and everyone involved in the team. I can’t wait to get racing now.
They were the first big proper British Pro team weren’t they, that’s how I’ve always known them from the old magazines and pictures. Holdsworth was racing for 20-25 years before I was even born, during the 70’s but they really set the tone for domestic pro teams and we have to live up to that, to honour the riders and the brand. Fellow Manxman, Nigel Dean raced for the team during the 70’s, so there’s a bit of a feeling that things have come full-circle. We’ve met up with some of the lads from the ‘old’ team and their support the new team is great, which is an added motivation.
Leon: If we can make them happy it’ll be great. I’ve been really impressed with the way everything has come together. It seems like there are a lot of moving parts, bikes, equipment, riders, contracts, licenses, team logistics, media planning, training; it has all clicked into place in a short timescale. I think that’s a testament to Dave’s desire to make this happen and the people he’s chosen that work behind the team.
Q. You’ve both had your Holdsworth Competitions for a while now how have you been getting along with a high-end, steel framed, Columbus tubed bike?
Leon: I like it, steel’s a really comfy ride and honestly it’s about as light as anything else I’ve ridden. You could race a full season just on the Competition you’d not be missing out and the colours really catch the eye of people when you’re out training.
Tom: I’ve not ridden a steel bike for a long time, but it feels good, it a great bit of kit. My first real racing bike was steel, a Battaglin, which had been passed down from many up and coming Manx cyclists including Peter Kennaugh at some point.
Q. Do you ever get to ride with Cav and Pete?
Tom: When they’re home we all go out training together, there is always a good group of us out no matter what the weather and it’s usually always a pretty tough day out on Manx roads.
Q. Can you win the Commonwealth Games road race?
Leon: As a team, we’ve got a strong squad led by none other than Mark Cavendish, then there’s Nathan Draper, Jake Kelly, Sam Brand and Tom and myself.
Tom: We’re all good mates on and off the bike, so we will gel together as a team and give 110% to get the job done. If we can look after Cav well, we will definitely have a real shot at the win. Leon and I will be racing our Holdsworth Bikes at the Games so that’s also going to be a great platform for the brand.
Q. What do you think of the Super Professional Team Bikes?
Tom: Campagnolo groupset, newly developed Holdsworth carbon frameset with carbon components from Selcof, it’s a perfect combination. It was great to come into today and see the bikes finished up. The Campagnolo EPS looks mega, the shifting is super smooth and it’s a bit of a classic pairing as well isn’t it Holdsworth and Campagnolo.
Leon: Our Dad has an old bike, I think it’s a Corrado, that has Campagnolo on it, from the Eighties. it still runs like a dream with a Campagnolo disc rear wheel. The stuff just keeps on going. What’s it that they say about Campagnolo –‘as other groupsets are wearing out Campagnolo is just beginning to wear in’. I reckon that’s gotta be right. He’s still rolling on the same bearings in the wheels. That’s unheard of, I doubt he’s done more than grease them a handful of times.
Q. What most excites you about riding for Holdsworth Pro Racing?
Leon: Coming back to the UK to race. Riding with my brother and being on a new UK team, that’s a real opportunity.
Tom: I’m really excited for some of the UCI stage races we have lined up, where I hope to show what I am capable of in the sprints. In the UK, I’m really looking forward to Rutland again. My previous team won it last year and I got a top 20, with a bit of luck it could have been even better. I’m looking forward to going back there with a point to prove and the support needed to do it right. Imagine if we could win that with a new team, the biggest race of the UK calendar, that’d be something.