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Avoiding the Unthinkable

Holdsworth Pro Racing announces its squad for the Yorkshire-based team’s first ever Tour de Yorkshire.

Words: Chris Sidwells
Photos: Andy Jones

“You can’t have a Tour de Yorkshire without a Downing in it, it’s unthinkable.” That’s what Welcome to Yorkshire’s commercial director Peter Dodd said at the 2018 Tour de Yorkshire launch late last year.

He was being kind, this brand new team, largely still on the drawing board in December 2017, was pitching for a place in the race. And although Holdsworth Pro Racing is based in Yorkshire, getting in the Tour de Yorkshire was by no means a given. Acceptance depends on the race organisers, ASO and ASO subsequently judged the team had enough firepower and experience to be worthy of a place in Yorkshire’s biggest race.

Image of Holdsworth Pro Racing team on Stanage
The riders haven’t raced much, they didn’t do any early season races in warmer climes. Neither did they have any warm weather winter training camps, like almost all of their competition have. Instead they trained in Yorkshire, mostly in the Peak District for hard yards, and the flat roads east of Sheffield for their speed-work. Now they are ready to go, and on May 1st the team revealed its riders for the Tour de Yorkshire.

Image of Holdsworth Pro Racing team

They are Russell Downing, Jake Womersley Leon and Tom Mazzone, Mattia Viel, Seid Liedze and Sean McKenna. In order; two riders from Yorkshire, two from the Isle of Man, two from Italy and one from Ireland. Plus a second Downing, Dean in the team car as sports director. The unthinkable has been avoided; the 2018 Tour de Yorkshire isn’t without a Downing, in fact it’s got two, and they are both excited about taking part in the race, particularly for this team.Image of Dean Downing

“It’s been really good helping the riders, being involved in the push to get in the Tour de Yorkshire, and also helping to develop and promote Holdsworth bikes, an old brand with new a new owner in Dave Loughran. Now, looking forward, it’s dead exciting,” Dean Downing confirms.

Image of Russ Downing Russell feels the same. “It means a lot to me, being a Yorkshire lad, to be part of a Yorkshire- based team in the Tour de Yorkshire,” he says, then adds; “We won’t be sitting at the back, we’ll try. We’ve got chances on stage one, but after that we’ll be trying to get in breaks.”

Jake Womersley, still only 22, says; “It’s a dream come true. I’ve watched the race pass from the roadside, but being in it is fantastic.” The Tour de Yorkshire will also give Womersley a platform to build his own career and reputation further, which he wants to do.
Image of Jake Womersley

Britain’s number one pioneer pro bike racer, the first man to get a place in a big pro team, the first British rider to win a stage in the Tour de France and to stand on the podium of a classic, Brian Robinson is Jake’s grandfather, and so often Jake is introduced as ‘grandson of………..’ He's proud of his heritage but says; “There’s only so much my grandad can do to point me in the right direction now, things have changed.” The Tour de Yorkshire will give Jake an opportunity to continue making his name as Jake Womersley ‘pro bike racer’, rather than ‘grandson of’.

The rest of the team consists of other young promising riders. Tom Mazzone is 24 and Leon Mazzone is 20, both are very fast. Italy’s Mattia Viel and Seid Liedze are both 22, Mattia is a great sprint prospect while Seid is a strong classy rider who won the GP della Liberazione in 2017. The seventh rider is Sean McKenna from Ireland, who is 23 and finished fifth in the 2017 Irish national road race championships.

The Tour de Yorkshire is a big step up for Holdsworth Pro Racing, but given that it was only an idea at the end of last year everybody concerned has done well to get to the start of this race. More races of a similar calibre are lined up for the rest of 2018, but this one is special; this one is in Yorkshire, and that matters. 
Image of Holdsworth Pro Racing Team