Giro News: Russell Downing Ready to Rock!

Larry Hickmott talking to Russell Downing about his final preparations for his first Grand Tour. Read the previous interview here…

Team Sky’s Russell Downing has been ‘enjoying’ the final few days before the start of his first Grand Tour with some Team Time Trial drills under the guidance of Bobby Julich. Talking after being on the massage table where he says he ‘got his legs back‘, Russell arrived yesterday (Wednesday) and went straight into some Team Time Trial efforts as well as making sure everything was okay with his race bikes and kit.

In the first two hour effort on the Pinarello TT bikes on Wednesday, the team says Russell, started off things at normal speed but then today, Thursday, the race kit came out for three race efforts. With a disc wheel at the back, deep section at the front and the race suit to give the riders a feeling of what they are going to be like, today was pain city for the riders.

Prior to the first training session on Wednesday, the team had a briefing on their team bus where riders were given their position in the nine man string. Russell was given the wheel of Peter Kennaugh who proceeded to rip Russell’s legs off after all the Team Pursuit training Kennaugh has been doing over the winter. ‘Fonzy’ vowed to get him back!

More briefings have followed as after each effort, the coaches go through what has gone well and what hasn’t and then tweak things a little before the next effort. The nine man team are travelling at 60 kph in their race efforts and Russell explained that when the cross wind gets up, the bikes can be a handful for a little guy like him.

The last time I saw Russell ripping it up, he was tucked down on his road bike on the lanes in South Yorkshire. Now, he has a different beast underneath him, the Pinarello TT bike which he says is totally different to ride than the road bike

“It’s different but is certainly comfortable and fast as soon as you get on it after having been set up properly after all the testing in Majorca“ he explained. “The aim of the game is not to drop the speed on the guy who is on the front. You can maybe move it up a little, a k an hour, but that’s for the big stronger guys, not me!”

Russell says he can sense the build up for the big race with the interviews coming in but they are thankful that the hotel is out of town and not in the hustle and bustle of the town centre. While Russell feels nervous and is aware of the pressure on Team Sky’s shoulders to twin the Team Time Trial, he does admit, “it is a bike race like any other but one that is three weeks long.”

“When you put the Sky jersey on, we always want to do the best we can and that is what we’ll be doing day in, day out. The pressure is there for sure but its all about how we deal with it.”

Russell and the team have one more day to check their bikes and equipment before the races kicks off on the Saturday with the 19 kilometre Team Trial in Turin. As Russell says finally, he and the team are ready to rock and on Saturday evening, Russell will have finally started his first Grand Tour … VeloUK wishes Russell and all the Team Sky riders good luck in the Giro’s first stage.