Caja Rural's Calum Johnston on Pamplona and Patience
Updated: Jul 4, 2021
For this week's team call our special guest was Calum Johnston, who rides for Caja Rural's development team. Last season Calum impressed with a 12th in the U23 Giro, a mark of the steady progress he has made over the last few years. In 2021 he moved from Zappi Racing Team to Caja Rural Development Team, part of one of the longest running teams in professional cycling. In 2015/16 the team was home to British superstar and GC contender Hugh Carthy, who like Calum was built for mountains and took to the Basque country quickly. In the same years Calum was riding as a junior for East Kilbride RC and Edinburgh RC
At 23 Calum can already lead a masterclass in resilience having had what he describes as a slow start in cycling where external support and funding was hard to come by. As a late developer who excels on longer climbs, he found British racing too flat, with most climbs over and done within ten minutes. By contrast races in Italy regularly feature climbs of thirty minutes plus, and it was through living and racing there that he developed consistency and found his strengths.
After two and half years in Italy he's now settling in well into his new team in the Basque country where the ground is rarely level and climbers tend to excel. That also means learning Spanish in addition to Italian. He’s working hard on the language so that he can play a full part in the team and build good relationships with his teammates. The impact of Brexit creates another barrier for young riders to progress in Europe and Calum is back in Scotland applying for his Spanish visa.
Calum proves a great role model for our team's ambitions and hits upon some of the reasons why racing in Europe is so important. He noted that compared to his UK peers at U23 Elite level, he raced 3 to 4 times as much, gaining strength and experience. Back home riders seemed to train a lot, but did less than a third of the racing load. Having that opportunity to race frequently meant Calum has learnt that “aiming to be a professional cyclist is not just about winning. It’s more important to be consistent and having come from behind I’ve learnt that”.
Calum is not the kind of guy to sit on his hands, whether it's learning Italian and Spanish or building relationships with teammates and staff. He is also keen to note the support from Dave Rayner Fund who's alumni is a who's-who of British Road Cycling stars.
In 2021 the Giro Cyclistico D'Italia [or Baby Giro] is extending its age category to U24 to assist riders who missed their chance to compete during the pandemic. That means Calum gets another shot so we're wishing him luck with a busy season ahead. In the meantime it's great to have Calum as a friend to the team and we’ll be out riding with him soon while he’s back in Scotland.
Thanks to Calum and best wishes for the up and coming races.