East Kilbride cyclist Calum Johnston hopes he has his ticket for the big time after finishing 12th in the Under-23 Giro d’Italia this year.

The 21-year-old reckons that result should be good enough for a professional shot at the full Giro d’Italia.

But if the governing body holds under-23 riders back for another year, Johnston hopes to dominate and move up a level midway through the year.

At the very least, he expects to be one of the elite cyclists at his international team, Holdsworth Zappi Racing Team.

Giro d’Italia under-23 lasts for eight days, with this year’s running from August 29 to September 5.

It started in Urbino and ended in Aprica.

Johnston, from Stewartfield, moved out to Italy in 2017 to pursue his dreams and he is loving life in the sun.

“I’m pretty happy. It was a really good week and I’m chuffed to bits with 12th in the end,” said Calum, who has swapped racing at Tour events in Motherwell for Northern Italy.

“I’d like to think this gives me a chance to go professional.

Delighted Calum signs his Zappi contract in 2017

“It has been a difficult year, with all this going on [the Covid-19 pandemic], so I’m just glad I made the most out of it.

“Hopefully it will grab a few people’s attention and then I’ll be able to move up the ranks for next year.

“It would mean a lot if I could get a professional shot at this.

“I mean, 12th in the Giro is a very good result.

“Under-23 racing in general is a lot more aggressive, and it’s a lot quicker and harder, because we’re all looking for that professional contract.

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“But I’ve backed it up with a few other results and that should hopefully get me a good gig somewhere.

“We’ve still got a few more races left in the year, but we still don’t know if they’re on or not yet, that’s still to be confirmed.

“I think a few more international races and hopefully I’ll get another couple of good results to back my Giro result as well.”

Calum has been on bikes since he was nine, but moved to the Adriatic Coast three years ago to open up more opportunities.

He added: “I have raced all over Scotland, moved to race all over the UK, and then in 2017 I made the move out to Italy to race full time and so far it has been amazing.

“The team I’m with at the moment is Holdsworth Zappi Racing Team and it’s primarily under-23 but we do have a few elites in the team.

“I’ve been with them since the middle of 2017 and it’s the perfect team for me.

Johnston has no regrets about the move to Italy

“I enjoy the lifestyle and the weather out here, and the kind of racing, which is a lot more hilly here, with a lot of mountains, suits me a lot more than flat roads and stuff.

“That’s why I made the move here and I don’t regret a single thing.”

Johnston will take things as they come, because coronavirus has had such an effect on racing, but hopes to step things up.

He said: “Next year I’m looking to be a first-year elite rider.

“There is talk that because there has hardly been a year there is talk from the Union Cycliste International, the governing body, to extend under-23 by one more year.

East Kilbride cyclist Calum Johnston in race action in 2017

“Personally I think I’ve got my result, so I’m in a better place than a lot of other guys.

“I think if I was to do another year of under-23 I would really look to be quite dominant and try to maybe move team around half-way through the year, and move up.

“But I’m actually pretty content just now and need to make sure I keep focused for the next few races.

“If they go well, hopefully I’ll be on my way.”

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