Feature: Dean Downing is Circuit Series Winner

Winner for the third time of the Elite Circuit Series, Rotherham’s Dean Downing  was part of a team that dominated the five events, Rapha Condor Sharp. Dream team is a description that would not be far of the mark when it comes to the riders assembled by John Herety for Rapha prior to this season and a dream run is what they have had.

Click here to see the Former Winners:

They kicked ass in the Halfords Tour Series, creating an unassailable lead before Endura Racing came back at them and just to prove a point, so did Motorpoint in the final round at Canary Wharf. Downing then messed up the final corner in Otley to lose the first round of the series to Endura Racing’s Scott Thwaites but that mistake just made him hungry to make amends.

Dean Downing leads the chasers at Preston.

Downing and his Rapha team were then at times embarrassing the other squads during the Elite Circuit series with the way they dominated the events like Colne, Abergavenny and Stafford.

The final round at Preston though saw Endura Racing back on top with Ian Wilkinson while Dean Downing finished in 8th place to clinch the series from his teammate Dean Windsor.  Tom Murray meanwhile prevented a clean sweep by getting enough points in Preston to finish the series in third place and overtake British Circuit Race Champion Graham Briggs.

Dean first won the series with Charlie Jackson’s Recycling team and then again with Rapha Condor in 2009 and in 2011, for Rapha Condor Sharp. “It has been a shorter series than normal and all the rounds have been on TV which is great for our sponsors”  he told VeloUK after the event in Preston. “We have had a rider on the podium in each round as well and myself being consistent has given me the title.”

Consistent! Dean is being modest because his record for the series is remarkable even if the series was only five rounds. After second place in Otley (Report here) where Endura Racing’s Scott Thwaites stole the show from the men in black, Dean hit back hard in Stafford (report here)  where his team had three riders in a break of four and Dean Downing was again second, this time to teammate Dean Windsor.

He was in super form when he won the round in Abergavenny (Report here) and was second again in the Colne GP (Report here) behind teammate Ed Clancy where his team stole the first four places from the other teams.

A win and three second places is a pretty amazing run and after such a series, it was no wonder he had wrapped the series up before a pedal had turned in Preston where he was 8th.

So whilst Dean wasn’t on the podium for Preston and the race there, he was on the podium and presented with the trophy for winning the series with the man who had won it the year before, and was the winner in Preston, Ian Wilkinson (Endura Racing).

The Elite Circuit Series was a bonus for Dean because at the start of the year the goal, the one and only goal, was to win the Halfords Tour Series and he and the Rapha team certainly did that. He then backed that up with great performances in the Elite Circuit Series before helping his Rotherham chaingang mate and Rapha teammate Graham Briggs win the National title.

Speaking to VeloUK afterwards, Dean admitted it has been a fantastic season and he was pleased to have been given a trophy for winning the series and keen to thank the man responsible for that, Ivor Armstrong.

“It’s awesome that Ivor, who organises a lot of the series (Colne and Preston) has given me this trophy and I’d like to thank him personally because this is from him and not British Cycling.”

“Ivor puts so much work in with his crew. They have put on a lot of races here today as well as at Colne and the national road race champs last year. He’s one of the biggest and best organisers of races here, so for him to get a trophy for the series is really nice and it is much appreciated.”

Talking about the final race in the series, Dean explained that after the four riders, Tom Murray (Sigma Sport Specialized, Ian Wilkinson (Endura Racing), Simon Yates (100% ME) and Dean’s teammate James McCallum (Rapha Condor Sharp)  had escaped up the road in the first ten laps of the race, he managed to get in a chase group with Graham Briggs and Dean Windsor.

They managed to open up a gap on the peloton and with the Duke,  Dean (Windsor) doing a lot of work, they were holding the gap to the four leaders. “Deano (Windsor) was doing so much work and he was already hurting from having just returned from the Vuelta Ciclista a León 2011 but despite being knackered, he did a lot of turns to keep the gap at 20 seconds” Dean explained.

Kristian House, who had won the day before in Spain, was still in great form in the event he won last year.

“But, we had six riders sat on us. We were trying to stay away, that was the main thing for us as we were never going to catch the front four. Then Dean (Windsor) blew and it left Briggsy and me on the front and no-one wanted to roll through and were attacking us instead.”

“100% ME were attacking and putting us under pressure and so we got caught. Kristian (House who had been in the peloton) then said to me what do you want me to do, and I said ‘they’ve been sat on us for half an hour so have a go if you want’. He’s super strong and attacked and rode away. They all looked at me but I wasn’t going to chase!”

House proceeded to almost catch the break while Dean stayed upright and came in for eighth place saying finally that it’s been a great year with something like 18 podiums and seven wins in quality races. Out of eight years the series has been run, Dean has won three, been third in three and second in one. Not a bad record that Deano!

Whilst Stephen Adams makes it a good day for Sigma Sport, Dean Downing can be seen sprinting full on alongside his champion teammate Graham Briggs.

Elite Circuit Series
1. Dean Downing Rapha-Condor-Sharp 254
2. Dean Windsor Rapha-Condor-Sharp 195
3. Tom Murray Sigma Sport / Specialized 167
4. Graham Briggs Rapha-Condor-Sharp 160
5. James McCallum Rapha-Condor-Sharp 136
6. Ian Wilkinson Endura Racing 99
7. Scott Thwaites Endura Racing 87
8. Simon Gaywood Team Corley Cycles / Cervelo / Alpha RC 81
9. Steven Burke Team UK Youth 76
10. Ed Clancy Rapha-Condor-Sharp 74

Other Interviews from Preston

The race winner at Preston, ‘superman’ Ian Wilkinson (above), explained afterwards “I am real pleased with being able to get the arms in the air and also got the chance to get a little Superman in there too. At the bell, it was getting a bit cagey and it was all about that last corner off the main road.”

“The wind was coming across real strong so I kept it left, wound it up into the bottom corner, that was one sprint, had a little recovery round the bottom and then gave it full gas to the line.” (See the rest of the interview and pictures here for Ian and Endura Racing …)

Second in the race was Downing’s Rapha teammate James McCallum :”That was very very hard. It is a difficult course at the best of times but with the wind being that strong, there was no where on the course you could recover. I wasn’t too sure to ride or not as John was telling me there was a group coming across. Eventually though it settled down and we kept on riding until the cat and mouse kicked in”.

“Wilko and I were both expecting Tom Murray and Simon Yates to start having a dig with five to go but that never came so Wilko and I drag raced each other down the hill  and then we tried to dive bomb the  hell out of each other on the last two corners. It was pretty much who ever got round them best would succeed and Wilko was going strong today”.

With the TV watching his every move, James McCallum leads the break in Preston.

“I am chuffed with how the crit racing has gone this year with Rapha Condor Sharp. My whole career has been revitalised joining Rapha Condor Sharp and being with John. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.  I’m getting to a point in my career when I’m more a helper than a winner but when I get a chance, I’ll give it a good chance.”

The rider in third in Preston was Tom Murray and we started by talking about an attack he made with still 25 minutes to go. “I only did that because Jimmy and Wilko were having a bit of an argument and we were getting slower and slower. My aim in the race was to get enough points to get third in the series so it was alright for them to argue but I had to stay away. It was a long shot but it got them working.”

“I like this circuit and it is my sort of finish; unfortunately it’s Wilko’s as well! I am getting a bit more consistent. I didn’t have the best Halfords Tour Series which was a bit annoying so I really wanted to ride well in the crit series and as a team, we had to get out there and show we could ride crits and be ready to come back next year and set me up again.”

After attacking alone, Tom Murray was joined by Simon Yates and soon the break of four was back together and working to stay away.

Preston Finale Result
1. Ian Wilkinson, Endura Racing
2. James McCallum, Rapha Condor Sharp
3. Tom Murray, Sigma Sport Specialized
4. Simon Yates, 100% ME
5. Kristian House, Rapha Condor Sharp
6. Stephen Adams, Sigma Sport Specialized
7. Graham Briggs, Rapha Condor Sharp
8. Dean Downing, Rapha Condor Sharp
9. Tom Barras Cycle Premier Metaltek
10. Jon Mould, 100% ME
11. Mark Christian, 100% ME
12. Tom Moses, 100% ME
13. Jake Hales, Corely Cycles
14. Kit Gilham, Sigma Sport Specialized
15. Matt Gee, Raleigh
16. Richard Hepworth, Cycle Premier Metaltek
17. William Penn, Mammoth
18. Michael Smith Corley Cycles
19. Evan Oliphant, Endura Racing
20. Dave Clarke, Endura Racing
21. Dexter Gardias, Forme
22. Joe Kelly 100% me
23. Callum Wilkinson, Endura Racing
24. James Gullen, Team Walliss CHH
25. Alistair Kay, Herballife Wheelbase
26. 54
27. Dale Appleby, Cycle Premier Metaltek
28. Stephen Gallagher, Cycle Premier Metaltek

1 lap
Jamie Newall, Corley Cycles

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More Crits
Whilst the two major circuit race series have finished, there are still some circuit races to come.  There first big one is in York on August 21 and that is set to be a great event with a number of the top teams set to ride including national champion Graham Briggs.

There is also said to be a circuit race on the day before the Tour of Britain leaves Peebles in Scotland and we’ll bring you details of that when we have it!

If you are organising circuit races and want to let everyone know about them, let us know at VeloUK by emailing us

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