PezCycling News - What's Cool In Road Cycling : Zappi Racing Team’s Paul Double Gets PEZ’d!

Zappi Racing Team’s Paul Double Gets PEZ’d!
Rider Interview: While the Tour de France has hit the Alps, Ed Hood hasn't stopped looking for the 'Stars of the Future' in the Under 23 peloton. Paul Double is a young man who has been cutting his teeth in Italy (and a couple of wins in Spain) with the Zappi Racing team and doing rather well thank you. Here is Paul's story.

As PEZ’s answer to Nostradamus, Viktor never ceases to get tired of telling me; ‘there’s more to Cycling than the damn Tour de France!’ Most cycling media wouldn’t agree with that. Albeit the man has a point; Ben Hermans took a fine wine for the Israel Cycling Academy in the tough Tour of Austria with hardly an eyebrow raised.

And over in La Bella Italia one of the world’s most important u23 races, the Giro della Valle d’Aosta went unnoticed. Along with the Baby Giro and Tour de L’Avenir this is one of the most important u23 races for the pro team talent scouts. Previous winners include Gianni Motta, Ivan Gotti, Yaroslav Popovych, Thibaut Pinot and Fabio Aru. This year’s race had national teams from Denmark and Russia; ‘feeder’ teams like Astana City and Lotto u23 as well as top home outfits like the mighty Team Colpack, long one of Italy’s most successful u23 teams. In there too was Zappi’s Racing Team, carrying the name of gregarious ex-pro, Flavio Zappi, who, for a fee, will give you a bike, training camps, accommodation and one of the best u23 race programmes you could wish for.

One of his men, Englishman Paul Double has been improving steadily over his two years of Zappi tutelage.
Here at PEZ we’ve spied his name in the Italian results on more than one occasion and thought that a wee change from endless pontifications about Le Tour might not be a bad thing.

PEZ: How did you get into the bike, Paul?
Paul Double:
I played football but my dad persuaded me to ride a club evening time trial, I did OK without any prep and that was the start.

PEZ: How and why Zappi’s?
I won the time trial in the 2016 Ras de Cymru in Wales, beating Richard Bussell who was National 10 Mile and Hill Climb Champion at the time – and I also won the ‘Queen’ stage over the Tumble Mountain. Flavio saw me ride there and said that I had potential but I had to go to Europe to exploit it. We kept in touch and I signed with his team for 2017.

PEZ: Last year you were posting DNF in quite a few of the early Italian races but this year you’re ‘in the mix’.
Initially it was a hobby but when I got serious and went with Zappi I had it in mind that I could ‘make it’ in one year. But that’s not possible; the step up from junior and British racing to Italy and u23 competition is enormous, a massive transition. Whilst I’ve perhaps not been getting big results this year I’m now a protagonist, part of and contributing to the race.

PEZ: You nabbed a couple of wins in Spain, early season.
We were training in Spain, doing five hour runs and we rode some local races – they’re not at the level of u23 Italian races but it was nice to win them.

PEZ: What’s your best result so far in Italy?
I was second in the Memorial Daniele Tortoli in May, that’s a National Calendar race with riders there from the Dimension Data and Gazprom feeder teams. It strung out early and I kinda made my way up and just rolled off the front - and that was the start of the break of the day. Two of us got away, I was with Michel Piccot of Biesse Carrera Gavardo, he got the victory with me second.

PEZ: The Baby Giro started well but ended badly for you?
I was riding well and was just outside the top 20 on Stage Seven; but that night I felt terrible, shivers and couldn’t eat. The next stage was the ‘Queen’ stage with Monte Grappa and I whilst I got through it, that finished me off and I ended up in hospital on a drip!

PEZ: And your illness impacted on your Valle d’Aosta performance.
I was 16th in the prologue but that was as good as it got; the illness and a very full race programmes catching up with me.

PEZ: In the Baby Giro and Aosta there’s a very wide spread of abilities, isn’t there?
Aleksandr Vlasov the Russian guy from Gazprom who won the Baby Giro rode Tirreno, Milan-Sanremo and the Tour of the Alps, this year so he’s competing regularly at the very highest level. Axeon Berman Hagens were riding and they’re pro continental. Vadim Pronskiy, who won Aosta is a Kazakh with Astana City which is the World Tour feeder team.

PEZ: How did the British Championships go for you?
I was 14th in the time trial and DNF in the road race where I missed the early move - and then it was splitting in the cross winds all over the place. I was 11th in the TT last year but all the racing and illness means that I wasn’t at my best for The Nationals.

PEZ: How would you describe yourself as a rider?
I’m a climber who can time trial a bit – but like I say, in The National TT I was still feeling the Baby Giro in my legs.

PEZ: What’s next?
When I go back to Italy it’ll all be one day races and I’m going to race less and concentrate on getting a result in specific events. We’ll be riding some big races, National Calendar on closed roads, very well organised.

PEZ: You were 53rd in the ‘Piccolo Lombardia’ last year, is that a goal for this year?
I was happy enough with that result, there was a group of 20/30 away on the Ghisallo climb, I was in it but it came back together on the long descent to the finish. I’ll be looking to improve, this year.

PEZ: What’s the ultimate destination?
I’m taking it a step at a time; I’ve not got the results yet but I have the potential. There have been peaks and toughs but the trend has certainly been upwards over the last three years. This is my last year with Flavio because I turn 23; he’ll be helping me find a team for 2019. Italy suits me so an amateur or continental team would be good but I wouldn’t say ‘no’ to a good opportunity in Britain – especially if the weather is going to be like this summer!

# PEZ will keep an eye on those Italian results from now until the end of the season – it was a certain Sean Kelly’s win in the ‘Piccolo Lombardia’ which really started his ball rolling. . . Photos supplied by Paul, thanks to all photographers. #

More information on the Zappi Race Team at their website.

It was November 2005 when Ed Hood first penned a piece for PEZ, on US legend Mike Neel. Since then he's covered all of the Grand Tours and Monuments for PEZ and has an article count in excess of 1,600 in the archive. He was a Scottish champion cyclist himself - many years and kilograms ago - and still owns a Klein Attitude, Dura Ace carbon Giant and a Fixie. He and fellow Scot and PEZ contributor Martin Williamson run the Scottish site where more of his musings on our sport can be found.


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