Seven years ago, in 2014, we interviewed Matthias Barnet, he had just won the 2014 British u16 Criterium Championship on the technical Hog Hill circuit at Redbridge, London. Since then we’ve not heard much of the man but when we spotted that he had signed up with Flavio Zappi’s squadra for season 2021 – along with fellow Scott, Hamish Strachan, who we spoke to recently – we just had to have a word with him.
You were British u16 Criterium Champion in 2014 and then what?
“I continued to race and as a junior had some really good results especially in Belgium but then had two big operations, one for a benign tumour on my left knee and then I injured my hip in a crash that required an operation – that took out two seasons and it took ages to get back after that.”
“I continued to cycle but for a bit I concentrated on first getting a degree in Cycling Performance followed by a sports science degree.
“I finished that in 2019 and was hoping that I could fully concentrate on cycling in 2020.
“And then Corona hit – my parents currently live in Germany so I stayed with them for most of the year.
“For 2021 I am really happy that I have signed with Zappi Holdsworth – I’m finally able to do what I love to do, full time.”
Did you race last year, any results?
“No, there were no races in Germany due to the Covid pandemic.”
How was ‘lockdown’ for you?
“I stayed with my parents in Munich.
“I did have an ankle injury over the winter which slowed me down a bit but apart from that, not too bad.”
Why sign with Zappi?
“I know a few of the previous Zappi riders and have heard only good things from them.
“I am coming back from having not done very much training or racing and I think Zappi can really help me get back to hopefully reaching my potential.”
Did you apply for Dave Rayner Fund assistance?
“No, I’m no longer U23 so I don’t qualify.”
What was getting to Italy like, given the Covid situation?
“I was travelling from Munich and I have German and British passports so travelling, despite Covid – and Brexit – is not too difficult for me.
“I had to do the PCR and quick test before flying and because I arrived from Germany I didn’t have to quarantine so it was fairly straightforward, particularly compared to some of the other boys.”
Tell us about Cesenatico.
“It’s on the Adriatic coast and was the birthplace of the late Marco Pantani – so there’s plenty of inspiration here.
“It is a nice place that we stay in, apartments overlooking the harbour, the views are pretty cool.
“It has a great beach where we do our morning yoga and we can cool off our legs in the sea after a hard training session.”
How about the Covid situation in Italy?
“Race organisers are having to work hard to put races on and there are a lot of changes all the time – I hope that we can continue to race and that Corona numbers improve so we can travel a bit more.”
And the ‘Zappi Way’ – what’s a typical day like?
“I really like being in the team – Flavio and Callum look after us really well, supporting and challenging us.
“We usually start the day with a walk or breathing exercises on the beach front and then go out training as a team.
“Long rides, power testing – we also have access to an outdoor circuit which allows for some race simulation without traffic.
“We do our strength training on the climbs with big gears.
“And as I mentioned, it‘s lovely to be beside the sea to cool off.
“The other boys are from all over the world and it is great to be with others who have the same goal.”
Is the life/training as you expected it would be?
“Coming back from injury is really frustrating because I’m still getting niggles and I just have to be patient before I can really go for it.
“Apart from that it is just what I expected.”
Any ‘shocks to the system?’
“After being injured, just fully training and racing is a bit of a shock to the system… it’s good to get up in the morning with a few aches and pains knowing I have worked hard to get them.”
Tell us about the team bikes and clothing.
“We’re riding Holdsworth Corsa Superlight Disc SRAM 4 machines. As the name suggests the bike is light and easy to handle.
“This is the first time I have a bike with disc brakes and I reckon it makes difference.
“We have a full set of bright orange, blue and black ALE kit which makes us quite easy to spot in the peloton.
“We have Carnac helmets which are lightweight and comfortable.”
Your first race is?
“They’ve been already; I’ve ridden three so far, going straight into national level races which has been tough but my power numbers are steadily improving which is a good sign.
“I feel I am in the right environment and have great support to continue to improve. Fingers-crossed I can shake off the last of my niggles and don’t get any further injuries.”
Your ambitions for 2021 Matthias?
“For me the ambition is to get back to full fitness and stay injury free so I can have a good run at feeling healthy and really enjoy my racing.
“I just love being on the bike and able to compete.”
VeloVeritas wishes Matthias, Flavio and his ‘Zappi Boys’ well for season 2021; wonderful to see young men ‘just doing it’!